One of my spiral ginger plants is finally flowering! I got them as small plants with just a few skinny and weak stalks, it has taken quite them some time to get to the healthier state that they are in now. Anyway, this spiral ginger is not exactly that exotic and it can be found for sale in our local nurseries in Singapore. I found this plant tucked at one remote corner of a local nursery. From this, one can discern that it is not one of your well-sought after plants.
Botanically known as Costus varzearum, these spiral ginger plants I have belong to the category of plants that do not have common names. From the Gingers R Us website, the origin of the specific name comes from the fact that Costus varzearum can only be found in the várzea forests of Brazil. How interesting!
The foliage of Costus varzearum is very attractive, in my opinion, and looks a bit like those found in another relative, Costus erythrophyllus. Both species have leaves that are purplish on the underside and dark green on the upperside. On the other hand, however, the leaves Costus varzearum have somewhat wavy edges and are thinner compared with those found on Costus erythrophyllus. The latter species is also usually shorter in stature too and a little fussy and hence more difficult to grow, I found.
The purplish leaves of Costus varzearum are an asset to the location where they are grown because they help to break the largely uniform green colour brought about by the foliage of my other ginger and banana plants.
Today, I was on a day’s leave from the laboratory and had this rare opportunity just now to be able to exploit my time at a very leisurely pace to walk around the Zingiberales Garden under broad daylight so that I can appreciate each of the plants grown in there carefully .
I was surprised when I saw one of my relatively young Costus varzearum plants has started to flower. The flowering head was borne terminally (meaning it is produced at the end of the growing point) could have been easily missed because it was green in colour and quite well-hidden amongst the leaves.
What gave the plant away were the soft creamy yellow tubular true flowers that emerged from between the bracts in the flower head. The true flowers have interesting red-orange markings on their lips. The emerging flower buds are intense yellow in colour and they contrast starkly against the green-coloured bracts found on the flowering head and the purplish leaves that the plant has.