Curcuma australasica

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Native Turmeric
Native tumeric.jpg
Curcuma australasica, Native Turmeric.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Zingiberales
Family: Zingiberaceae
Genus: Curcuma
Species: C. australasica
Binomial name
Curcuma australasica
Hook. f.
Rare White Native Turmeric.
White Native Turmeric side view.

Curcuma australasica, Native Turmeric, or Cape York Lily, is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the Zingiberaceae or ginger family.[1]


Curcuma - from the Sanskrit name for turmeric, kuṅkuma[2].
australasica - for Australian.[3]


C. australasica is the only Australian native of the 50 world-wide species of Curcuma. It occurs on Cape York Peninsula, a few areas in the Northern Territory, Australia, and in Papua New Guinea. It has a very beautiful, long-lasting flower found in moist pockets in sandstone areas and in wet woodland and forest areas. It grows well in containers, can be propagated by division and prefers to well-watered in summer and dry in winter.[3][4]

It is grown for its flowers in Zimbabwe, and a cultivated variety called "Aussie Plume" is grown in the US which can grow up to 6 ft (almost 2 meters) tall.[4]

The native form is usually less than 500 mm (20 in) tall, with long green leaves (140-450 x 60–190 mm), pleated. Flowers 15–20 mm, November to March in Queensland, normally yellow on a spike with pink, red, mauve or green bracts.[4] Occasionally a white form is found in the wild - see accompanying photograph.

The Aboriginal Gugu Yimithirr language name is kumbigi. Aboriginal people in Cape York Peninsula used to roast and eat the roots of this plant.[3][4]

IUCN Red List status: not evaluated,[5] but very common and widespread in Queensland.


  1. ^ "Curcuma australasica". The International Plant Names Index. 
  2. ^ Tawney, C. H. (1924). The Ocean of Story, chapter 104. p. 13. 
  3. ^ a b c Scarth-Johnson (2000). National Treasures: Flowering plants of Cooktown and Northern Australia. Vera Scarth-Johnson Gallery Association. ISBN 0-646-39726-5. 
  4. ^ a b c d Beasley, John (2009). Plants of Cape York: The Compact Guide. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-9806863-0-2. 
  5. ^ "Curcuma australasica". Encyclopedia of Life.