Saturday, August 9, 2008

Cuckoo about Curcumas

It was early morning when I saw this wild Curcuma. It was nestled up close to the rough, exposed roots of an old cashew tree. With the sun just opening up the skies and sending out one tentative beam to paint the tips of the flower, it looked as if it was on fire! A fireball wrought of fragile crystal, suspended above an emerald bed .

It was so exquisitely pretty that it stopped me in my tracks for a minute . And then, I ran for my camera. I just couldnt resist circling around to get a photo from the other side. And what do you know ... it was just as gorgeous from the other side too!

From this side, I soon saw what I had missed earlier. A view of the true flowers, complete with bright yellow path highlighting the way in for all pollinators. "Just follow the yellow brick road..."

My curcuma is not just a pretty-colour type of flower, though it obviously has that too. There's something so 'architecturally' striking about its form.

When I looked around, there were more curcumas in flower and bud but there were quite a few varying shades and hues. Were they the after-effects of cross-pollination or just varying shades at various stages of flowering? I think I'll have to wait till next year to find out because my wild curcumas dont rebloom for me. The foliage remains for a couple of months, growing progressively more and more ratty . Then they just die down and cut out all above-the-ground activity till the next monsoon season. And its time to bring on the show-stoppers!

( click on the photos to enlarge )


  1. Hi, this is my first time visit here, very curious about tropical gardening in India.

    I have many Cucurmas in Singapore, but they are non-reliable blomers, perhaps they need a more seasonal climate.

  2. Hi Sunita, Your Curcuma flower pictures are gorgous I can understand that you were stopped in your tracks. We grow them here as well; and like you said when finished they get ratty looking for a good while. Here they start growing as soon it is getting warm enough.

  3. Hi Hort Log, glad you dropped by.
    I think we must be growing very similar plants, right? Though I do envy you your access to so many orchids there.
    Here our wild Curcumas pop up only once the monsoons set in. It must be the constant dampness of the soil that does it.
    Trudi, are your Curcumas native ones as well? Do you have any photos posted on your blog?

  4. Sunita,

    my Cucurmas come from Thailand mainly, where its more seasonal. So far only gracillima and perhaps a form related to zeodoria or its hybrid has bloomed more than once for me, will try to post a pic in the blog when I can find it.

    India has a great many Impatiens and Begonia and gingers like Hedychiums and such. These herbs are my favourites but you need to get them from collectors because they do not have much commercial value. Or collect them yourselves.

    Cheers !

  5. Sunita - Such beautiful plants...I enjoyed reading of your enthusiasm...I'd be running for my camera when I saw these beauties, too!

  6. I love your exotic flowers with their vibrant colors.

  7. Hort Log, Thailand seems to be a major source of interesting plants. It'll be great to see photos of your curcumas.
    Kim, LOL! I usually stand back to enjoy the moment but this was too beautiful to let go. I just had to get the camera.
    PGL, Thanks! But I would still love to be able to grow cyclamens and peonies, etc.

  8. Nice blog! Will check back often!!

  9. Thanks, berryberr! I hope to see you here again soon : )

  10. Hi Sunita, loved the pictures, again! I would love to be able to grow something like this, I think there is a vague resemblance of lotuses... Can Curcumas be used as a spice too?

  11. Hi, TIG ! Good to see you back here again.
    I think that if you have a heated greenhouse, you could manage to grow curcumas in Seattle too. But dont quote me ... I'm famous for trying to grow spruce in the tropics! : D
    The resemblance to blossoming lotuses did strike me too. Especially the top part of the inflorescence, right?
    I dont know whether this particular curcuma is used as a spice but Curcuma longa is widely used as one and is famous for its cosmetic uses. The leaves on that is different, though. Its slightly longer and more narrow.

  12. Red ginger , is that what it is called?
    'A view of the true flowers, complete with bright yellow path highlighting the way in for all pollinators. "Just follow the yellow brick road..." 'Beautifully expressed.
    all the pictures are so lovely, I can almost smell the flowers

  13. Thanks, Raji. Believe me, the actual flowers were too gorgeous for me to actually capture their essence in a photograph.
    Actually, Red Ginger is another plant which is officially called Alpinia purpurata. You can see a photo of it in my post titled 'If this works...'
    It was so quaint, but the flowers with their yellow highlight immediately made me think of the song from The Wizard of Oz.


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