Three new and noteworthy records of Gingers from India

· Articles

R. Kumar1 & S.K. Singh2
1Botanical Survey of India, Arid Zone Regional Centre, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India
2Botanical Survey of India, Eastern Regional Centre, Shillong, Meghalaya, India,
*Corresponding author: Ramesh Kumar; email:


Three species of Zingiberaceae, namely Boesenbergia parvula (Wall. ex Baker) Kuntze, Curcuma elata Roxb. and Zingiber stipitatum S.Q. Tong, are reported for the first time in Indian flora.

Keywords Boesenbergia, Curcuma, Zingiber, New Record, India.


Members of family Zingiberaceae are generally considered as one of the most important and valuable groups of monocotyledons. They are well known for their uses as spices and condiments throughout the world. Most usage is centered on consumption of rhizomes, stems and flowers or as decoctions in traditional medicine (Burkhill, 1966). They are mostly terrestrial in nature and show enormous diversity in their floral morphology. They prefer to grow in damp, humid and shady places particularly in tropical forests and are distributed mostly in tropical and subtropical regions of the globe with prevalence in SE Asia especially the Malesian region. The family is represented with ca 53 genera and ca 1700 species in the world (IPNI, 2016; The Plant List, 2016; WCSP, 2016). In India, the family is represented by ca 230 taxa related to 20 genera, abundant in Northeast India, South India and Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Baker, 1890; Rao & Verma, 1972; Jain & Prakash, 1995; Kumar, 2001; Sabu, 2006; Sanoj et al., 2008; Kress et al., 2010; Thomas et al., 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016; Sanoj & Sabu, 2011; Kumar et al., 2011, 2013, 2015; Singh & Kumar, 2011; Mood et al., 2013; Sabu et al., 2013; Thongam & Konsam, 2014; Thongam et al., 2013a, 2013b; Kishore & Skornick, 2013; Talukdar et al., 2015; Aishwarya & Sabu, 2015; Aishwarya et al., 2015; Singh & Singh, 2016; WCSP, 2016; Plant List, 2016; IPNI, 2016). Of these, about 132 taxa falling under 19 genera distributed in North-east India.

During field explorations, the authors collected some interesting ginger species from Garo Hills, Meghalaya, India. The rhizomes of these were planted in the experimental botanic garden of BSI, Shillong where they flowered later on. After studying the vegetative and flowering characters and comparing them with existing herbarium and literature, three turnd out intresting namely Zingiber stipitatum S.Q.Tong, Boesenbergia pervula (Wall. ex Baker) Kuntze and Curcuma elata Roxb. previously unknown in Indian flora. All the three species are recorded for the first time from India and their description and relevant details are presented here.

Taxonomic description

Boesenbergia parvula (Wall. ex Baker) Kuntze, Revis. Gen. Pl. 2: 685. 1891. Gastrochilus parvulus Wall. ex Baker, Fl. Brit. India 6: 218. 1890. (Figure 1)

Terrestrial rhizomatous herb; rhizome small, fleshy, perennial; roots slender, fascicled, occasionally tuberous. Leafy shoot 15 – 30 cm tall; stem short, completely included within leaf sheaths. Leaves 3 – 4, distichous, produced towards the top, petiolate, petiole 2 – 4 cm; lamina 8 – 20 × 6 – 11 cm, elliptic, tip acute, distinctly oblique at base, glabrous, tip hairy, ligulate, ligule ca 5 mm long, of two triangular lobes, membranous, glabrous. Inflorescence subsessile, 6 – 8 cm long, included within the leaf sheaths. Bracts ca 2 × 1 cm, oblong – lanceolate, green, sparsely hairy, each subtends a single flower. Bracteoles equal to the bracts, narrower, tip hairy. Calyx truncate, 0.5 – 1 cm long, bifid. Corolla tube equal to the bracts; lobes linear-oblong 1.5 – 2 cm long, white to light pink. Labellum 2.5 – 3 × 2 cm, margins wavy, apex slightly bilobed, white to light pink spots in the centre. Lateral staminodes equal to or shorter and broader than corolla lobes ca 1.2 × 0.6 cm, white. Filaments ca 1 cm long; anthers 5 mm long. Ovary 2 mm long, glabrous. Capsule often with 2 – 4 seeds. Seeds brown to black, minutely hairy, aril lacerate.

Flowering: August – November.

Specimen examined: West Garo Hills, Nokrek Biosphere Reserve, 12.08.2010, Ramesh Kumar et al. 131392 (ASSAM). It is growing at forest edges in moist sandy soil, at altitude 500-800 m asl.

Distribution: India [Meghalaya – present study], Myanmar (Tavoy).

Notes:  It is closely allied to Boesenbergia pulcherrima (Wall.) Kuntze, but differs in having petiolate leaves, subsessile inflorescence, truncate calyx and corolla tube equal to the bract;  while the the latter one pssesses sessile leaves and somewhat spicate terminal inflorescence, spathaceous calyx and corolla tube shorter than the bract.

Curcuma elata Roxb., Fl. Ind. (ed. 1832) 1: 25. 1820. (Figure 2)

Terrestrial rhizomatous herb; rhizome large, 5 – 6 × 9 – 10 cm, yellow turmeric-like, aromatic; sessile tubers branched, condensed; roots fleshy. Plants 1.5 – 2 m high, pseudostem 0.8 – 1 m tall, sheaths green. Leaves distichous, 0.75 – 1.0 m; petiole as long as lamina; lamina 30 – 40 × 10 – 12 cm, oblong – lanceolate, tip acute, base acuminate, glabrous, groove of the midrib green. Inflorescence lateral, 30 – 45 cm long, peduncle 15 – 25 cm; spike 12 – 15 × 5 cm; coma bracts large, pink to violet, lower ones streaked green. Fertile bracts 18 – 20 in numbers, 4.5 – 5 × 4.4 – 5 cm, lower half fused, tip rounded, green with a pink tip. Bracteoles large, 3.5 × 2.5 cm, white with a median light green patch. Flowers 4.5 – 5 cm equal to or slightly shorter than the bracts. Calyx 1 cm, truncate, 3-lobed at apex, split on one side. Corolla tube 3 – 3.3 cm long, pink, lobes unequal; dorsal lobes 1.5 × 1.2 cm, concave, hooded; lateral lobes 1.5 × 1 cm, tip rounded, pink. Labellum 1.5 – 1.7 × 1.8 cm, tip emarginate, yellow with a deep yellow median band. Lateral staminodes 1.5 × 1 cm, yellow; anthers 7 mm long, without crest, spurred at base. Ovary 5 mm long, trilocular; style long, filiform; stigma bilipped, slightly exserted above the anther lobes.

Flowering: May – June.

Specimen examined: West Garo Hill District, Rongreng Reserve Forest, 15.05.2013, Ramesh Kumar et al. 131393 (ASSAM). It is growing at forest edges in moist sandy soil, at altitude 500-600 m asl.

Distribution: India [Meghalaya – present study], Myanmar, Thailand, Veitnam.

Notes: It is clearly distinct from all the hitherto known species of the genus from India in having very robust strature of the plant. However, it shows resemblance with Curcuma zeodaria (Christm.) Roscoe, but differs in having yellow turmeric like rhizome, large leaves (75 – 100 cm), coma bracts pink to violet, flowers yellow with deep yellow median band and corolla lobes pale with light pink tip; while the latter one has pale yellow or white (in side) rhizome, shorter leaves (30 – 60 cm), red comma bracts, pale yellow flowers and white corolla lobes.

Zingiber stipitatum S.Q. Tong, Acta Phytotax. Sin. 25: 146. 1987. (Figure 3)

Terrestrial rhizomatous herb; rhizome small, branched, mature with pleasant zinger aroma. Leafy shoot  1.7 – 2.6 m tall, erect, hairy, base purplish red; leaf sheath pubescent, basal one purplish green, upper one green, at 3 – 9 cm intervals with thin hyaline margins; ligule 0.4 – 0.5 × 1.5 – 2.0 cm, equally bilobed at apex when young, more or less entire later, pubescent, hyaline. Leaves 25 – 35, shortly petioled, petiole 0.5 – 1.0 cm long, pinkish red, pubescent; lamina 25 – 37 × 4 – 5.5 cm, narrowly lanceolate, adaxially dark green, smooth, glabrous, abaxially off-green, pubescent, base cuneate, apex acuminate. Inflorescence arising from the rhizome breaking through the sterile bracts, 12 – 18 cm above the ground on a separate short peduncle; peduncle erect, 7 – 12 × 0.7 – 1.0 cm, with 10 – 12 sterile bracts, 3 – 4 × 4 – 4.5 cm, oblong, tip obtuse, reddish, pubescent with hyaline reddish margin, lower one smaller than upper one reddish grey.  Spike 5 – 8 × 3 – 4 cm, narrowly ellipsoid, bearing 20 – 25 flowering bracts.  Bracts  3 – 4.5 × 2.5 – 3.5 cm, ovate or broadly ovate, green when young, becoming red, purplish red at apex, apex reflexed inside, glabrous with hyaline white margin. Bracteoles ovate to sub-ovate, 2.5 – 3.0 × 1.4 – 1.7 cm, glabrous, creamy white with pinkish truncate tip. Calyx tubular, ca. 1.25 cm long, 3 – 4 mm in diam., tri-lobed, glabrous, apex sometimes slightly pinkish. Corolla tube slender, 3 – 3.6 × 1.25 cm, creamy white; dorsal corolla lobe 3.0 – 3.5 × 1.0 – 1.5 cm, lanceolate, 5-nerved, creamy white, acute; lateral corolla lobes 3 – 3.5 × 0.5 – 0.8 cm, lanceolate, 4-nerved, apex acute, adhering basally to the ventral surface of the labellum. Labellum 3.5 – 3.8 × 2 – 2.5 cm, creamy white with wavy margins; central lobe 3 – 3.5 × 1.4 – 1.7 cm, suborbicular, apex truncate; lateral lobe ca 2.8 × 0.7 cm, 4 – 5-nerved. Anther sessile, thecae 1.2 × 0.4 cm; connective and crest creamy white, 2.0 – 2.5 cm long. Style ca 5.5 cm long, filiform, stigma projecting from the anther crest, ostiole hairy. Epigynous glands 2, free from each other, linear, 5 mm long, yellowish. Ovary globular, 5 mm long, 3 mm in diam., creamy white, trilocular with many ovules, placentation axile, glabrous outside.

Flowering: July – August.

Specimen examined: West Garo Hill District, Nokrek Biosphere Reserve, 13.08.10, Ramesh Kumar et al. 125140 (ASSAM). It is growing at forest edges in moist sandy soil, and along river at altitude 500-700 m asl.

Distribution: India [Meghalaya – present study], China.

Notes: This species is distinct from all other species of the genus in having small purplish brown rhizome with Zingiber officinale like pleasant aroma, long leafy shoots (c.1.7 – 2.8 m) with purplish red base, reddish green bracts which are purplish red at apex. However, it shows affinity with Zingiber neotruncatum T.L.Wu, K.Larsen & Turland – a species distributed in NE India, China, Thailand and Vietnam (Sabu et al., 2013) in habit, but former differs  from the latter in having almost two times long petiole, leafy shoots with purplish red base, much shorter inflorescence, tri-lobed calyx and suborbicular, creamy white truncate labellum.


Authors are grateful to Dr. P. Singh, Director, Botanical Survey of India, Kolkata, Dr. A.A. Mao, Scientist E, Botanical Survey of India, Eastern Regional Centre, Shillong for facilities and encouragements; and Prof. M. Sabu, University of Calicut, Kerala and Jana Leong- \check{S}korni\check{c}kov\acute{a}, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore for helping in identification and valuable suggestions. Thanks are due to the officials of Forest Department of Meghalaya for rendering the logistic support during field explorations.


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