Type: Cheilocostus speciosus
Plants tall, >1.5m, branching at higher nodes with secondary branching, branches breaking through leaf-sheaths. Leaves seasonally deciduous leaves, attached to sheath by short petiole which is articulated at the junction. Vegetation almost entirely glabrous with pubescence restricted to the underside of leaves. Inflorescence an elongate spike, terminal either emerging directly from the rhizome on a leafless stem or terminating a vegetative shoot. Bracts chartaceous (to woody), red or brown, unappendaged. Bracteole chartaceous, tubular, bicarinate adaxially. Calyx 3-lobed, lobes of equal size, pungent at each apex with a single hardened point, often greatly exceeding bracts in length, cylindrical. Corolla tube exserted from the calyx; lobes large, membranous, lanceolate. Labellum large, obovate, thin, forming a long narrow tube that opens broadly to ovate at the apex, greatly exceeding petals and bracts in length, never lobed; colored white, yellow to orange and sometimes red (Cheilocostus globosus). Stamen petaloid; tip reflexed, triangular, covering the opening of the floral tube. Nectaries in two hollows connected to a gland in apex of ovary. Ovary trilocular; ovules many, in two rows. Stigma modified cup-shaped with small rounded dorsal appendage. Fruit capsule 3-angled, lateral angles smaller and spreading, loculicidal, dehiscent via 3 slits, not splitting to the apex, dry. Seeds angular, usually with a small white fleshy aril, all those in one locule adhering together by their arils upon dehiscence; embryo straight in copious endosperm.
The distribution of Cheilocostus is restricted to South East Asia, Malaysia and New Guinea.
Phylogeny and Classification:
Cheilocostus is sister to Tapeinochilos, forming a clade of Asian Costaceae.
There are 4 species in this genus as currently circumscribed, including the diverse Cheilocostus globosus complex which includes as many as 14 previously defined species. Taxa include C.speciosus, C.globosus, C.sopuensis, and C.lacerus .
Ecology and Pollination Biology:
The open labellum is generalist in form, suggesting bee or fly pollination.
Common Names, Uses and Notes:
Cheilocostus speciosus is known in the horticultural trade as the "Crepe Ginger" due the delicate nature of the labellum.
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