Painted Spiral Ginger
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Painted Spiral Ginger
ntroduced Photo: Narendra Joshi
Common name: Painted Spiral Ginger, Spotted Spiral Ginger • Tamil: இன்சுலின் செடி Inchulin cheti
Botanical name: Costus pictus    Family: Costaceae (Spiral Ginger family)
Synonyms: Costus hieroglyphica, Costus mexicanus, Costus congestus

Painted Spiral Ginger is a perennial herb, native to Mexico. It has long narrow leaves with a characteristic wavy edges. The bases of the sheaths are mottled with markings that have earned the plant the synonym of Costus hieroglyphica. The inflorescences form both at the end of a leafy stem, and less often radically on a short nearly leafless stem. Painted Spiral Ginger can be recognized by its yellow flowers with red spots and stripes. In India it is grown in gardens as ornamental plant especially in Kerala in every home. The major attraction of this plant is its stem with spiral leaves and light airy and tissue paper like flowers. Red painted stem enhances the beauty of the glossy leaves and strongly spiralling canes.
Medicinal uses: The Costus pictus is valued mainly for its tonic, stimulant and antiseptic properties. It is said to be aphrodisiac and to be able to prevent the hair turning grey. Its root is anodyne, antibacterial, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, carminative, skin, stimulant, stomachic, tonic and vermifuge.

Identification credit: Prashant Awale Photographed in Mumbai.

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