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Curcuma zedoaria
1896 illustration[1]
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Zingiberales
Family: Zingiberaceae
Subfamily: Zingiberoideae
Tribe: Zingibereae
Genus: Curcuma
L. (1753), nom. cons.
  • Dischema Voigt (1845)
  • Erndlia Giseke (1792)
  • Hitchenia Wall. (1834 publ. 1835)
  • Hitcheniopsis (Baker) Ridl. (1924)
  • Kua Rheede ex Medic. (1790)
  • Laosanthus K.Larsen & Jenjitt. (2001)
  • Paracautleya R.M.Sm. (1977)
  • Smithatris W.J.Kress & K.Larsen (2001)
  • Stahlianthus Kuntze (1891)
  • Stissera Giseke 1792, illegitimate homonym not Heist. ex Fabr. 1759
  • Zedoaria Raf. (1838), nom. nud.

Curcuma (/ˈkɜːrkjʊmə/)[3] is a genus of plants in the family Zingiberaceae that contains such species as turmeric and Siam tulip. They are native to Southeast Asia, southern China, the Indian Subcontinent, New Guinea and northern Australia.[4] Some species are reportedly naturalized in other warm parts of the world such as tropical Africa, Central America, Florida, and various islands of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Generally, most curcuma grows well in loose and sandy soil in shaded areas.[5][6]

Botanical description[edit]

Curcuma rhizome, sections and powder

Curcuma is a perennial, herbaceous plant that can reach a height of 1 meter. It emits numerous, edible rhizomes whose interiors are yellow or orange. These rhizomes are reduced to a powder, which is the spice called curcuma. Its lanceolate leaves are oblong or elliptical and are of a uniform green, and about 50cm long and 7 to 25 cm wide.[7]


The name is derived from the Sanskrit kuṅkuma, referring to turmeric. Turmeric is used to flavour or colour curry powders, mustards, butters, and cheeses; it may also be used as a substitute for saffron or other yellowish pigments.[8]


Curcuma euchroma
Curcuma inodora
A. Bernecker: Curcuma longa
Curcuma longa

Plants of the World Online currently includes:[9]


  1. ^ Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen
  2. ^ Curcuma L. Plants of the World Online. Retrieved 7 May 2024.
  3. ^ "curcuma". Dictionary.com Unabridged (Online). n.d.
  4. ^ "Curcuma [family ZINGIBERACEAE]". Global Plants.
  5. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  6. ^ Sirirugsa, P.; Larsen, K.; Maknoi, C. (2007). "The Genus Curcuma L. (Zingiberaceae): Distribution and Classification with Reference to Species Diversity in Thailand" (PDF). Gardens' Bulletin Singapore. 59 (1&2): 203–220. S2CID 173169715. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2021-07-25. Retrieved 2021-10-20.
  7. ^ Collectif (2016). Histoire Naturelle (in French). Paris: Flammarion. p. 149. ISBN 9782081378599.
  8. ^ Somadeva (1924) [1079]. "The use of turmeric (kuṅkuma) in ancient India". Kathasaritsagara [The Ocean of Story]. Vol. XIII, ch. 104. Translated by Tawney, C. H. B.R. Publishing Corporation. p. 13. ISBN 9789350501351.
  9. ^ Plants of the World Online: Curcuma L. (retrieved 3 May 2021)
  10. ^ Ruchisansakun, Saroj; Jenjittikul, Thaya (2023-07-13). "CURCUMA IGNEA (ZINGIBERACEAE), A SPECTACULAR NEW SPECIES FROM THAILAND". Edinburgh Journal of Botany. 80: 1–8. doi:10.24823/ejb.2023.1959. ISSN 1474-0036.
  11. ^ "Leonid crocus (Curcuma leonidii) – a new species discovered in Bu Gia Map National Park in Binh Phuoc province". Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology. Archived from the original on 2014-05-04. Retrieved 2014-05-03.
  12. ^ a b Leong-Škorničková, J.; Trần, H.Ð. (2013). "Two new species of Curcuma subgen. Ecomata (Zingiberaceae) from southern Vietnam". Gardens' Bulletin Singapore. 65 (2): 169–180.
  13. ^ Zhang, Li-Xia; Ding, Hong-Bo; Li, Hai-Tao; Zhang, Zhong-Lian; Tan, Yun-Hong (11 March 2019). "Curcuma tongii, a new species of Curcuma subgen. Ecomatae (Zingiberaceae) from southern Yunnan, China". Phytotaxa. 395 (3): 241. doi:10.11646/phytotaxa.395.3.9. S2CID 92158324.