Identification: Large fuzzy leaves arranged on one side of stem

Discussion in 'Indoor and Greenhouse Plants' started by wcutler, Dec 29, 2009.

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  1. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    The most interesting feature of a plant I saw today at the Bloedel Conservatory was that the leaves all appeared to grow on one side of the stem, about two inches apart. They actually spiralled, so gave a staircase effect, but I don't know how many feet of growth it would take for them to do a full turn around the stem. The impression was that it was the stem that was spiralling with the leaves all on one side.

    There were five or more stalks to about five feet tall, oblong leaves around 10-12 inches long and maybe 4 inches wide, I think pointed at both ends, not serrated edges, velvety particularly underneath but new leaves fuzzy on both sides. The newest inch or two of the stems was noticeably red and curiously blunt-looking at the ends.

    I'm guessing this would not be an outdoor plant in Vancouver.

    Can someone get this from my description, or do I have to go back to the Conservatory to get a photo?? I couldn't find a tag and I was too late to catch anyone to ID it.
     
  2. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Re: Large fuzzy leaves arranged on one side of stem - Costus

    OK, got it. I went back to the conservatory, took photos, talked to one of the people there who told me the name and gave me some stems to grow (not that I asked), and then when I was measuring out the distance along the stem for the leaves to get back to the starting position, I came across the sign. It's [edited - for sure not] Costus pulverulentus, Spiral Ginger; it's not in the ginger family but it's related one level above that. [Edited: I still think Costus, but not this species, see below, not sure what species.]

    The spiral distance was about 18 inches. The blunt-looking tip was the beginnings of a flower.
     

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    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
  3. thanrose

    thanrose Active Member 10 Years

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    Ah, good. I was thinking of a few spiral growth patterns I'm familiar with, but this didn't sound like Arisaema spp. or Spiranthes spp.

    Very pretty growth pattern, with or without flowers.
     
  4. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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  5. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    I'm getting a flower on the Costus! I am SO excited. It's on the branch all the way to the right in the first photo. I want to revisit the ID though.
    Costus_Home_Cutler_20180803_174647.jpg Costus_Home_Cutler_20180803_175216.jpg

    So I identified this as Costus pulverulentus because that's what the label at the QE Conservatory says. But I have my doubts about that. For one, in this thread, Is this a Costus and if so which, lorax identified that plant as Costus pulverulentus from the patterning on the bracts. You can see that on this photo, Costus pulverulentus C.Presl (Spiral Ginger) - Cultivated, and Costus pulverulentus - Gingers R Us mentions the "fibrous, woody looking edges of the red bracts" as a distinguishing feature; they are evident even on a young flower about the size of mine. My bracts do not look like that.

    I was going to guess Costus scaber, but the datasheet at Datasheet for Costus scaber rules that out: "An aid in identification is the minute single row of hairs (requiring a lens for my eyes) along the upper midrib of the leaves. This is not determinative in and of itself because there are other species with the same character, but Costus scaber should always have this line of hairs." With a loupe, it's hard to even distinguish the midrib - there is definitely not a single row of hairs along the upper midrib. That datasheet has links to some comparison tables for other species, but I'm not up to the terms for the various types of hairiness and other distinguishing features. My leaves are what I would call sericeous on the bottom, like very young Neolitsea sericea leaves. The bracts don't give the appearance of being hairy, but they feel softly velvety and you can see the hairs on the edges in this zoomed photo.
    Costus_Home_Cutler_20180803_175218.jpg

    So my current guess is Costus comosus var. bakeri, which appears in commerce incorrectly as Costus barbatus. It's not an exact match, though. On the gingersrus specimen description at Le Jardin Ombrag? description of accession., I'm not seeing the leaf node hairs that are on my plant and my plant doesn't seem as hairy on the stems between the nodes. I wonder how variable that is. Or what the var. bakeri distinction is. Hmm. I looked up Ligule, which is supposed to be "Short, truncate, less than 5 mm long, pubescent." If I have the right bit (the white sheath-looking things covering the stems), mine are 3cm, not 5mm. BUT, several of the pages have "specs" for both sheaths and ligules, and I don't understand which is what. Here are other descriptions from the same site:
    http://www.gingersrus.com/DataSheet.php?PID=4863 (Costus comosus) and
    http://www.gingersrus.com/DataSheet.php?PID=4035 (Also Costus comosus, with more description and photos)
    Costus_Home_Cutler_20180803_191703.jpg
    You can see the leaf underside in this photo as well.

    Here is a photo of the flower on the parent plant at VanDusen four years ago.
    20140410_QEConservatory_CostusPulverulentus_Cutler_P1030370.JPG

    Here is another page with a photo and description.
    Costus comosus var. bakeri – Monaco Nature Encyclopedia

    Here is a Costus comosus photo where the stem does look like mine, Forest and Kim Starr.
    starr-071024-0432-Costus_comosus-flowers_and_leaves-Enchanting_Floral_Gardens_of_Kula-Maui

    I'll stop editing this eventually. On this Costus comosus page, which I also think looks like my plant, Costus comosus - Red Tower Ginger, Spiral Ginger - Hawaiian Plants and Tropical Flowers,
    there is mention of another look-alike, but not enough alike:
    Scientific Name: Tapeinochilos ananassae

    Synonyms: Costus ananassae, C. pungens, Tapeinochilos australis, T. pungens, T. queenslandiae

    Common Names: Indonesian Wax Ginger, Red Wax Ginger, Pineapple Ginger, Giant Spiral Ginger
    I don't see anything on this description of Costus sprucei to rule it out. Except for the unlikelihood of its making its way to Vancouver.
    Le Jardin Ombrag� description of a taxon. (gingersrus.com)

    I'm adding other names I'm ruling out.
    Costus woodsonii: bracts seem more closed, corolla tubes red, leaves not hairy.
    Costus spiralis: corolla tubes red, stamen red flowers vertical on the bracts. There is a C. spiralis var. villosus, but these other characteristics would seem to eliminate this as the ID.
    Costus cupreifolius: closest to C. comosus and C. productus, densely hairy, but coppery coloured undersides of leaves rules it out.
    Costus productus: hairy, but bracts curl in, corolla tips often red
    Costus curvibracteatus: The distinctive curvature inwards of the margins of the bracts.
    Costus montanus: Actually, this looks very similar in the photos, except that the top surfaces of the leaves are supposed to be as "densely ferrugineous-velutinous" as the under surfaces. This one is supposed to have long ligules: "This species readily recognized by its long, unequally 2-lobed ligule and the ferrugineous-velutinous indument on most parts of the plant". I am not sure about the unequally 2-lobed ligules, though they are split.

    Oops, I deleted the link I just fixed for Costus barbatus. 3074
    Le Jardin Ombrag� description of a taxon. (gingersrus.com)
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2023
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  6. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    I'm enjoying watching this spiral ginger flower do its spiral thing. The first photo is one I posted above from August 3, where you can see the largest flower on the right. In the next photo, from August 13 (two days ago), the largest flower is at the front left, with the next largest to the right of it. The last photo is from today; the largest flower has moved to the front and the next largest is behind that on the right.
    Costus_Home_Cutler_20180803_175216.jpg Costus_Home_Cutler_20180813_155311.jpg Costus_Home_Cutler_20180815_114656.jpg
     
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  7. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Really for sure not what that sign says. I have just come across a lot of photos of C. pulverulentus posted by Reinaldo Aguilar on flickr, which is definitely different from the conservatory plant and mine.
    Search: Costus pulverulentus | Flickr
     
  8. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    I'm not allowed to see the link to this any more, have written to see if public access can be restored.
    Susan Ford Collins, who does a lot of postings of plants she sees at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami, FL, has posted a plant apparently labelled Costus barbatus, with the description
    "The foliage of Costus barbatus is dark green and fuzzy underneath.", which describes my plant.
    Costus Ginger and leaves | Costus barbatus, also known as sp… | Flickr
     
  9. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Weird, same thing happened when I wasn't logged in to Flickr. I logged in and can see it then... and the photos are marked as Viewing Privacy: Public and Safety Level: Safe. Maybe can't link to searches anymore?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2023
  10. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Thanks, Daniel. Logging in to Flickr didn't help me, but I was able from the home page to navigate to Costus and select the "barbatus" page. I've updated the URL in the posting, now to
    http://www.gingersrus.com/DataSheet.php?PID=3074.

    In the writeup there, it says most plants labelled C. barbatus are really C. comosus, and it gives a link that does not work. The link for Costus comosus that works is of the same format as for barbatus,
    http://www.gingersrus.com/DataSheet.php?PID=7586.
    And I do think that looks like my plant.

    I'll fix my other links to that site.
     
  11. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Here is a plant at Houston Botanic Garden labelled Costus comosus. The leaf undersides feel fuzzy like on mine.

    Costus-comosus_HoustonBotanicGarden_Cutler_20230516_161636.jpg Costus-comosus_HoustonBotanicGarden_Cutler_20230516_161642.jpg
     

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