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Curcuma longa

Curcuma longa




Curcuma domestica Valeton

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Kunyit, temu kunyit, tius.
English Turmeric.
Brunei Kunyit, temu kuning, temu kunyit (Dusun, Malay).
Indonesia Kunyit (general), kunir (Javanese), koneng (Sundanese).
Papua New Guinea Lavar, tamaravirua (Gunantuna, New Britain).
Philippines Dilaw (Tagalog), kalabaga (Bisaya), kunik (Ibanag).
Cambodia Ro miet.
Laos Khi min, 'khmin2'khun2.
Thailand Khamin (general), khamin kaeng (northern), khamin chan (central).
Vietnam Ngh[eej], ngh[eej] v[af]ng, u[aas]t kim.
French Curcuma, safran des Indes, turmeric.

Geographical Distributions

C. longa probably originated from South or South-East Asia, most probably from India. It is not known in a true wild state although in some places it appears to have become naturalised (e.g. in teak forests of East Java). C. longa has been grown in India since time immemorial. It reached China before the 7th century, East Africa in the 8th century and West Africa in the 13th century. It was introduced into Jamaica in the 18th century. Presently turmeric is widely cultivated throughout the tropics but cultivation on a considerable scale is largely confined to India and South-East Asia.


This is a herb with branched rhizome, bright orange inside and outside. The young tips are white.

The leaf sheaths are up to 65 cm long. Its blades are oblong-lanceolate to egg-shaped-lance-shaped, 7-70 cm x 3-20 cm in size, densely studded with pellucid dots.

The inflorescence is terminal, perched on a leafy shoot. The bracts are pale green with white streaks or white margins. The coma bracts are white but sometimes pink-tipped. The petal is 4.5-5.5 cm long and white. The labellum is suborbicular to obovate.It is 12-22 mm in diametre, white with a yellow median band. The other staminodes are longitudinally folded, creamy white and the anther has large spurs.

Ecology / Cultivation

C. longa is found naturalised mainly in teak forest, but also in sunny places, on clayey to sandy soils, up to 2000 m altitude

Line Drawing / Photograph


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  1) Medicinal Herbs


  1.  Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 12(1): Medicinal and poisonous plants 1.

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