Singapore Government Logo

A Singapore Government Agency Website


Cheilocostus speciosus (J. Koenig) C. Specht

Family Name: Costaceae
Synonyms: Costus speciosus (Koenig) Smith
Common Name: Crepe Ginger, Setawar Tawar, Spiral Flag, Cane Reed, Malay Ginger, Wild Ginger, Spiral Ginger, White Costus, 闭鞘姜
Full Sun: 6-8h Semi-Shade Lots of Water Moderate Water Occasional Misting Bird-Attracting Butterfly Food Plant Native to Singapore Fruit & Vegetable Roadside Tree / Palm Ornamental Flowers Ornamental Foliage Woody Herbaceous


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Monocotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Shrub (Herbaceous)
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Irregular
Maximum Height 4 m


Native Distribution Indian sub-continent, South China, Taiwan, Indochina, Malesia (including Singapore) to Micronesia
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest, Secondary Rainforest, Disturbed Area / Open Ground)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Common)

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a large perennial herb, with stems up to 4 m tall.
Foliage Its alternate, shortly-stalked leaves spiral up the stem, and have elliptic leaf blades that are 20–25 cm long.
Flowers Its flowering shoot is ovoid-oblong,and 12–15 cm long. The white flower has a lip of 6–8 cm long.
Fruits Its fruit are flattened berries that are drop-shaped, containing numerous black seeds.
Habitat It grows in damp open places, and is commonly found in lowland forest margins.
Associated Fauna Its flowers are visited by bees, butterflies, and sunbirds.
Cultivation It can be propagated by seeds or stem cuttings.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Stems)
Food (Fruit & Vegetable : The starchy rhizome is edible but fibrous, tasting watery with a hint of ginger, a close relation.)
Medicinal ( In Peninsular Malaysia, the plant is used medicinally by the Malays as a purgative or poultice, and for coughs, fever, leprosy and small pox. In India, the plant is used to treat colds, pneumonia, and rheumatism. In Java, it is used to treat dysentery, eye complaints, and syphilis. )
Cultural / Religious ( Malays consider it the chief magic plant - when it is used medicinally it works upon evil-spirits that have taken possession of the body.)

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It has beautiful, large, white blooms with a yellow centre. Its leaves and stems are velvety. It is a hardy plant and is easily propagated through division of rhizomes, or stem cuttings. It is suitable as an ornamental plant for borders or as a low screen.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Foliage
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Moist Soils, Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site), Fertile Loamy Soils, Easy to Grow
Landscape Uses General, Roadside Tree / Palm, Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens, Hedge / Screening, Flowerbed / Border

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting (Flowers), Butterfly Food Plant (Flower Nectar)
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Bee), Vertebrates (Bird))
Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade, Full Sun
Water Preference Occasional Misting, Lots of Water, Moderate Water
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting, Division, Aerial Plantlet


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Velvety / Furry / Tomentose
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Spiral
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Elliptical)
Foliar Margin Entire
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Monocot)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) White, Red, Yellow / Golden
Flower Texture(s) Smooth, Thin
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Terminal
Individual Flower Shape Trumpet-shaped

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Brown, Red
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Fleshy Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Non-Accessory Fruit

Image Repository



Master ID 574
Species ID 1869
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 14 October 2021.