One of the many treasures that are hidden in the Western Ghats and Himalayas is the wild turmeric. These treasures shoot up from their hiding places under the earth in the spring. The leaves are sometimes invisible during this time, but both the foliage and the flowers are very attractive, giving an impression that these plants have been deliberately planted by god to add more color to mother earth.
Picture – Photographed in Himvad Gopalswamy Betta
Wild Turmeric is also known as Aromatic Turmeric belonging to Zingiberacea (Ginger) family. It is of the same genus as Curcuma (Turmeric). The botanical name is Curcuma Aromatica. The other Indian names are Kasthuri Arishina in Kannada; Jangli haldi in Hindi; Lam Yaingang in Manipuri; Kasturimanjal in Tamil; Zedoari in Gujarati; Kasthuri Pasupa in Telugu and Katuumanna in Malayalam.
Picture – Photographed in Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary
These plants can be grown as an ornamental plant. The leaves are big and lovely and the flowers shoot below the leaves and sometimes go unnoticed, hence this plant is also referred to as “hidden ginger”.
The root of this plant is a rhizome. The flowers are pinkish/purplish white and they grow up to 10 – 12 inches. The flowers are a tower of petals arranged neatly and a yellow flower appears within the pinkish or purplish white petals. They are pollinated by insects and sometimes you can find hummingbird hovering over the flower to suck the nectar, in turn pollinating the plant.
I have come across the blooms in Himvad Gopalswamy betta and in Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary. These also thrive in the Himalayas. So, the next time you visit these places in spring keep your eyes open to spot and enjoy them. The flower bracts last long as cut flowers and they might look beautiful in a flower arrangement along with driftwood. The leaves are broad; oval shaped and grows up to 4 feet long and 20 cm wide. Even these can be used in an arrangement.
The wild turmeric is not as popular as its counterpart, the white turmeric, as a flavoring agent in cooking but, it is widely used in Ayurveda and Chinese medicines.
It is used to treat cancer, skin diseases, jaundice, liver complaints, asthma, wounds etc.
Tags: Aromatic Turmeric, Curcuma, Gardening, Kasthuri Arishina, Kasturimanjal, Wild Plant and Flowers, Wild Turmeric
Filed under: Wild Plant and Flowers