Curculigo orchioides Gaertner

Curculigo orchioides Gaertner





Vernacular Names

Papua New Guinea

Tupa-aui (Kenemote, Eastern Highlands).


Taloangi (Bagobo), tataluangi (Bukidnon), sulsulitik (Bontok).


Waan phraao (Northern).


Ng[ar]i cau, s[aa]m cau, ti[ee]n mao.

Geographical Distributions

Curculigo orchioides occurs from the subtropical Himalayas of Pakistan and India, to Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, southern China, Taiwan, southern Japan, to Thailand and Malaysia (at least known with certainty from Java and the Philippines), and possibly also to northern and eastern Australia. The distribution in Malaysia is incompletely known.


Curculigo orchioides is a perennial herb that can grow up to 50 cm tall, with vertical, more or less tuberous, blackish rhizome and rather stout roots.

The leaves are arranged alternate, clustered and sessile on rhizome, narrowly lance-shaped, measuring 20- 30 cm x 1-2 cm, long-tapering at base into a pseudo-petiole which is sheath-like at its base, and also long-tapering at apex, plicate, sparsely hairy with long hairs or hairless and with few to several parallel veins.

The inflorescence is axillary, inconspicuous among the leaf bases, spike-like, few-flowered or with a solitary flower, and with a very short scape or peduncle. The bracts are lance-shaped, long, measure 2-4 cm long, membranous, surpassing the peduncle and ovary. The flowers are long-hairy, where the lower ones in the inflorescence are bisexual while the upper ones are male. The perianth is with long slender tube, measures about 2-3 cm long (resembling a pedicel) and with 6 equal spreading lobes which are lance-shaped to elliptical, measure 5-8 mm long, few-veined, pale outside and bright yellow inside. There are 6 stamens that are inserted on the bases of perianth lobes, about half as long as perianth lobes, and with short filaments attached to the bases of the linear anthers. The ovary is inferior, 3-locular, with imperfect locules, short and thick style and with 3 stigmas.

The fruit is berry-like, rather fleshy, ellipsoid, measures about 1.5 cm in diametre, surpassed by the bract, beaked by the persistent perianth tube and 1-4-seeded. The seeds are nearly globular to oblong, measure about 4 mm long, and with beak (elaiosome) lateral to hilum, with crustaceous testa, striate, black and shiny.

Ecology / Cultivation

Curculigo orchioides occurs in open fields and grasslands. In Java, it grows on periodically very dry, sunny or slightly shaded localities in grasslands and teak forests up to 400 m altitude. In the Philippines, it is also found in grasslands, often dominated by Imperata.

Line Drawing / Photograph



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