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Cheilocostus speciosus facts for kids

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Crêpe ginger
Cheilocostus speciosus.jpg
Cheilocostus speciosus from Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Wild crêpe ginger (Cheilocostus speciosus) - Bukidnon, Philippines 01.jpg
Wild Cheilocostus speciosus from Bukidnon, Philippines
Scientific classification
  • Costus speciosus (J.Koenig) Sm.
  • Banksea speciosa J.Koenig in A.J.Retzius
  • Hellenia speciosa (J.Koenig) S.R.Dutta

many more

Cheilocostus speciosus, or crêpe ginger, is a species of flowering plants in the family Costaceae. Some botanists have now revived the synonym Hellenia speciosa for this species.

It is native to southeast Asia and surrounding regions, from India to China to Queensland, It is especially common on the Greater Sunda Islands in Indonesia. It is also reportedly naturalized in Mauritius, Réunion, Fiji, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Belize, Melanesia, Micronesia, and the West Indies. It is widely cultivated as an ornamental.


Cheilocostus speciosus and other members of the Costaceae differ from gingers by having only one row of spirally arranged leaves. The species reproduces vegetatively by rhizome, and birds disperse the seeds when they feed on the fruits.

This plant is cultivated in South Asia and Southeast Asia for its medicinal uses, and is cultivated elsewhere as an ornamental. In some areas Cheilocostus speciosus is introduced and has become an invasive species.


The habitat where this species is found is roadside ditches and low-lying areas in tropical forests. Flowering starts after onset of the rainy season.

Human relevance

The plant 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. It is used to treat kidney problems and other urinary problems in Mizo Traditional Medicine. It was used as a traditional medicine by Malays when evil spirits have possessed a body, as well as for the treatment of high fever, smallpox and as a purgative.

Cheilocostus speciosus has a large number of common names in many languages, including isebsab (Palauan); keu, kemuk or keumul (Bengali); keukand (Hindi); thebu (Sinhala); pakarmula (Gujarati); pushkarmula (Marathi and Sanskrit); jom lakhuti (Assamese); kostam (Tamil); Kosta (Kannada); Kostamu (Telugu); Okchak Khombi (Manipur) sumbul (Mizo); setawar (Malay).


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