Crepe Ginger
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Crepe Ginger
P Native Photo: Gary Thingnam
Common name: Crepe Ginger, cane-reed, Malay ginger, spiral flag, spiral ginger, wild ginger • Assamese: যম লাখুটি jom lakhut • Bengali: কেউ keu, কেউমুক keumuk • Gujarati: પેવટો pevato • Hindi: केउ keu, कुष्ठ kushtha • Kannada: ನರಿ ಕಬ್ಬು nari kabbu, ನಾಯಿ ಕಬ್ಬು naayi kabbu, ಪುಷ್ಕರಮೂಲ pushkaramula, ಪುಷ್ಕರ Pushkara, ಚಂಗಲಕೋಷ್ಟ Changalakosta, ಚಂಗಲಕೋಷ್ಠ Changalakostha, ನೀರಜ Neeraja, ಪದ್ಮಪತ್ರ Padmapatra • Konkani: कोशी kosh • Malayalam: ആനക്കൂവ anakkuva, ചണ്ണക്കൂവ cannakkuva • Manipuri: ꯈꯣꯡꯕꯥꯟ ꯇꯈꯦꯂꯩ Khongban takhelei • Marathi: पेव pev • Oriya: କୁଷ୍ଠ kushtha • Sanskrit: केमुक kemuka, कुष्ठ kustha • Tamil: கோஷ்டம் kostam, வெண்கோஷ்டம் ven-kostam • Tangkhul: Talaiwon, Makeiri • Telugu: కాశ్మీరము kasmiramu, కిముక kimuka, కోష్టము koshtamu • Nepali: बेतलौरी Betalauri • Mizo: Sumbul • Angami: Thevobuto
Botanical name: Hellenia speciosa    Family: Costaceae (Spiral Ginger family)
Synonyms: Costus speciosus, Cheilocostus speciosus, Amomum arboreum

Despite its common name, crepe ginger is only a distant relative of the edible ginger family. It is a tall and dramatic landscape plant with large dark green leaves arranged on the stalk in a spiral. This Costus can grow to 10 ft tall in frost-free areas, but is typically small as a potted plant. The flowers appear in late summer or early fall, and are quite unusual looking. They form on red 4 in cone-shaped bracts, with several 2 in pure white crinkled flowers protruding from each cone. The flowers look like crepe paper - thus the common name of crepe ginger. After the flowers fade away, the attractive red cone-shaped bracts remain. The large crepy object is not the petal, but the stamen - the three true petals of each flower are inconspicuous, and are alomst hidden by the bell shaped stamen.
Medicinal uses: Crepe Ginger has many historical uses in Ayurveda, where the rhizome has been used to treat fever, rash, asthma, bronchitis, and intestinal worms. It is mentioned in the Kama Sutra as an ingredient in a cosmetic to be used on the eyelashes to increase sexual attractiveness.

Identification credit: Tabish Photographed in Manipur.

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