Tapeinochilos ananassae (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Tapeinochilos ananassae (Hassk.) K. Schumann

Protologue: Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 27: 349 (1899).
Family: Costaceae
Chromosome number: 2n= unknown


Tapeinochilos pungens (Teijsm. & Binnend.) Miq. (1868).

Vernacular names

  • Indonesia: bunga kasturi, hamuki, mamori (Moluccas).

Origin and geographic distribution

T. ananassae originates from the Moluccas, New Guinea and Australia (Queensland), but is grown as an ornamental in other tropical and subtropical regions (known as “Indonesian wax ginger”“).


In the Moluccas roots, leaves and the stem pith have been used internally as well as externally to treat snakebites, and the leaves have been used as a poultice on wounds. The leaves were also eaten as a vegetable. It is unknown whether the plant is still used for these purposes. T. ananassae is cultivated as an ornamental, especially for cutflowers.


A very large herb up to 4 m tall, with fleshy rhizome; stems branched. Leaves arranged spirally, simple and entire, oblong to oblong-obovate, 11-14 cm × 5-6 cm, cuneate at base, acuminate at apex, glabrous, subsessile, with truncate ligule and tubular sheath at base. Inflorescence terminal on leafy shoot or on an erect leafless peduncle up to 2 m tall and arising from rhizome, cone-like, 7-20 cm long, with large, leathery, bright red bracts having recurved tips. Flowers barely exceeding bracts, bisexual, zygomorphic, 3-merous, c. 5 cm long, subsessile; calyx tubular, unequally lobed, red; corolla with 3 subequal lobes, yellow; stamen 1, with broad filament and apical connective crest, staminode (labellum) opposite the stamen, adnate to corolla tube, with 2 lateral teeth; ovary inferior, 2(-3)-celled, style filiform, upper part enclosed by the thecae, stigma flattened triangular. Fruit a capsule, longitudinally dehiscent, many-seeded. Seeds angular, with short lobed aril.

Tapeinochilos comprises about 12 species and is restricted to the Moluccas, New Guinea and north-eastern Australia. It is included in the family Costaceae , which is closely related to Zingiberaceae , together with 2 small South American genera and the large, pantropical genus Costus .


T. ananassae occurs in lowland and lower montane forest, often in clearings.

Management Propagation of cultivated T. ananassae is usually done by division, sometimes by stem cuttings or seed. Seeds start to germinate about 6 weeks after sowing, and a germination rate of 60% has been recorded.

Genetic resources

Little is known about wild populations of Tapeinochilos and the threat of genetic erosion for these. No germplasm collection are known to exist, but commercial plant breeders offer T. ananassae , and occasionally other species, for sale, e.g. in the United States.


Pharmacological research is needed to assess the true value of the medicinal uses of T. ananassae . Locally T. ananassae has become a popular ornamental for its large, brilliant red, stiff inflorescences, which can be used as long-lasting cutflowers. However, it has lost some popularity because after some years of growth the inflorescence stalks decrease in length.


248, 334.

Other selected sources

386, 510.

Main genus page


Amor T. Karyowati