Characteristics of Wild Turmeric (Curcuma aromatica)
Kasthuri turmeric known as wild turmeric outside India is a highly valued plant widely used as a cosmetic herbal. This species is found in the South Asian region, predominantly in the Eastern Himalayas and Western Ghats. It is scientifically known as Curcuma aromatica and is a relative of ginger and turmeric and belongs to the ginger family Zingiberaceae. It is a plant with underground stem known as rhizome. Leaves arise from the rhizome and grow throughout the rainy season and die down in late autumn. But the rhizomes perennate in the soil for several years. Flowers develop in inflorescences that appear in early spring from the base of rhizomes. The leaf sheaths form a pseudostem. Plants are 90-120 cm in height. Leaves are about 65 cm in length and about 20 cm in width. The leaves are elliptic, acute at either ends. Petioles are about 30 cm long. Inflorescences are purplish blue in colour due to the presence of bracts and the flowers are brownish-yellow. Rhizomes form the economically important part and they are orange yellow inside.
The rhizomes of wild turmeric have a very peculiar fragrance and cream colour. The rhizomes are used in cosmetic herbal medicines and as a culinary ingredient to flavor food. Fresh stalks with flowers and leaves can be used for floral indoor decoration in flower vases. Such cuttings usually last for about ten days.