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Useful Tropical Plants

Curcuma longa

L.

Zingiberaceae

+ Synonyms

Amomum curcuma Jacq.

Curcuma brog Valeton

Curcuma domestica Valeton.

Curcuma ochrorhiza Valeton

Curcuma soloensis Valeton

Curcuma tinctoria Guibourt

Kua domestica Medik.

Stissera curcuma Giseke

Common Name: Turmeric

Curcuma longa
The fresh rhizome and powder.
Photograph by: Simon A. Eugster
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
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General Information

Turmeric is an erect, strongly tillering, herbaceous, perennial plant growing about 1 metre tall from an underground rhizome. It has a short stem and 6 - 10 tufted leaves about 30 - 50cm long[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Turmeric is a very common dye plant and is also one of the most common flavourings used in Asian cuisine[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. It is believed to have been first domesticated in South or Southeast Asia and is now widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions for its use as a spice, dye plant, medicinal plant etc[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.

Range

E. Asia - India, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia.

Habitat

Not known in a truly wild state, though it appears naturalized in some areas, such as the teak forests of east Java[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitPerennial
Height0.90 m
Cultivation StatusCultivated

Cultivation Details

Turmeric is a plant of the moist tropics and subtropics, where it is found at elevations up to 2,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 28°c, but can tolerate 18 - 32°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,000 - 2,000mm, but tolerates 800 - 3,000mm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Prefers a fertile, well-drained soil in a shaded position[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Succeeds in full sun and in light shade[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 7, tolerating 5.5 - 7.5[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
In India the crop is planted just before the rainy season. The leaves appear above ground in about 30 days, and the crop is harvested when the leaves wither after 270 - 365 days[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Yields of fresh raw turmeric usually vary between 7 - 9 tonnes per hectare when turmeric is grown as a rain-fed crop, and between 17 - 25 tonnes when it is grown under irrigation[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Yields up to 50 tonnes have been obtained[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. The yield of the dried spice varies between 400 - 1,700 kilos/ha[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Plants are adapted to growing in areas of seasonal drought in monsoonal forests[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

Edible Uses

The rhizomes are dried and ground into a yellow powder[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. This is used as a yellow colouring agent and flavouring in a wide range of foods such as rice, curries, piccalilli, gravies and sauces[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
,
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. It is an essential ingredient of curry powders[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
].
The plant has primary, ovate or pear shaped rhizomes that are 5 - 8cm long and 1 - 5cm wide. Growing from these are secondary, finger shaped rhizomes, with an inner yellow colour, a characteristic odour and a slightly bitter taste[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

The young shoots and rhizome tips can be eaten raw or cooked[
296
Title
Tropical Food Gardens
Publication
 
Author
Norrington. L.
Publisher
Bloomings Books (Melbourne)
Year
2001
ISBN
1-876473-41-x
Description
Excellent little book giving some basic information on a range of plants.
,
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. They can be chopped finely and added to curries etc, where they impart a subtle, spicy flavour[
296
Title
Tropical Food Gardens
Publication
 
Author
Norrington. L.
Publisher
Bloomings Books (Melbourne)
Year
2001
ISBN
1-876473-41-x
Description
Excellent little book giving some basic information on a range of plants.
,
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Medicinal

The rhizome is a pungent, bitter, astringent herb that stimulates the digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems and uterus, normalizes energy flow and has antiinflammatory and antibiotic effects. It has also been shown to lower blood-cholesterol levels and inhibit blood clotting[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
].
It is taken internally in the treatment of digestive and skin complaints, poor circulation, uterine tumours, jaundice, liver disease, menstrual problems, rheumatism, and to relieve cough and tuberculosis[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
,
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Externally, the rhizome is used to treat a range of skin conditions including itch,insect bites, small injuries, sores and ringworm[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
,
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. The powdered rhizome is used in a treatment for sores and rashes in infants. Indo-Fijians apply a poultice of the rhizome to sprains and bruises. A solution is used to treat eye diseases and open wounds. The rhizome is pounded and squeezed in water to prepare a solution to treat fish poisoning and to treat purulent conjunctivitis.

The leaves are applied to bruises and painful skin[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
,
311
Title
Medicinal Plants in the South Pacific
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
WHO Regional Publications, Manilla.
Year
1998
ISBN
92-9061-118-9
Description
Excellent guide to 102 medicinal herbs of the Pacific Islands, with photographs of each plant and details of their constituents, biological activities and traditional uses. A description of each plant, together with habitat and distribution is given.
]. Juice from the leaves is used to treat aching eyes[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
,
311
Title
Medicinal Plants in the South Pacific
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
WHO Regional Publications, Manilla.
Year
1998
ISBN
92-9061-118-9
Description
Excellent guide to 102 medicinal herbs of the Pacific Islands, with photographs of each plant and details of their constituents, biological activities and traditional uses. A description of each plant, together with habitat and distribution is given.
]. Colds and runny noses are treated by inhaling the vapour from the crushed leaves[
311
Title
Medicinal Plants in the South Pacific
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
WHO Regional Publications, Manilla.
Year
1998
ISBN
92-9061-118-9
Description
Excellent guide to 102 medicinal herbs of the Pacific Islands, with photographs of each plant and details of their constituents, biological activities and traditional uses. A description of each plant, together with habitat and distribution is given.
].

Other Uses

The root is a source of yellow and orange dyes for silk and wool[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. Most notably, it is used for colouring the robes of Buddhist monks[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. Turmeric is recognized in the dyeing industry as one of the 'direct colours', capable of dyeing cotton without a mordant. However, as the pigment is extremely sensitive to light, it easily discolours, and when applied to cotton, wool or silk it is usually used in a weak solution of acetic acid or alum. Alkali in the dye bath can be used to impart a reddish hue[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. The rhizomes are also used in as a cosmetic for the body and face[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The dye can be used as an indicator of acids and alkalis[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
].

The cured and dried rhizomes produce an aromatic yellow-orange powder that is used for the preparation of solvent-extracted oleoresin.

The root has insecticidal, fungicidal and nematicidal properties which make it a potential biocide[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Germinates best at temperatures around 20°c[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Division of the rhizome when the plant is dormant.

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