1. Family: Zingiberaceae Martinov
    1. Genus: Curcuma L.
      1. Curcuma inodora Blatt.

        Scentless turmeric is a perennial herb found only in India, where it is used in traditional medicine for the treatment of muscular pain, psychosomatic disorders and constipation.


    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description
    An attractive, perennial herb from India, scentless turmeric is cultivated as an ornamental and also used in traditional medicine.

    Scentless turmeric is a perennial herb found only in India, where it is used in traditional medicine for the treatment of muscular pain, psychosomatic disorders and constipation.

    A genus within the ginger family (Zingiberaceae), Curcuma contains nearly 100 species, including turmeric ( Curcuma longa), the underground stems of which are the source of the bright yellow spice. The name Curcuma comes from the Arabic kurkum meaning turmeric.

    Species Profile
    Geography and distribution

    Curcuma inodora is native to India. It is reported to occur in Maharashtra, extending up to northern Karnataka, and has been more recently reported from Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. It is common in barren, laterite areas, plains and roadside cuttings, and also occurs in tropical moist deciduous forest.


    A perennial herb that can grow up to 120 cm tall. Flowers are large, showy, pink-purple with a dark yellow band at the centre.

    The plant is dormant from November to April/May when it appears above-ground again, growing up from its rhizomes (underground stems). This dormancy has given rise to the common name hidden lily.

    Threats and conservation

    The main threats to Curcuma inodora come from habitat loss and overharvesting (for local medicinal use and the horticultural trade). Its habitats have suffered from conversion to agricultural land and human settlements and are now highly fragmented over large parts of its range. However, occurrence of C. inodora along roadsides suggests that the species is able to persist and regenerate in disturbed and secondary vegetation.

    Ornamental gingers have rapidly increased in popularity in the western world in the past few years, promoting an increase in illegal collecting.

    Conservation assessments carried out at Kew

    Curcuma inodora is being monitored as part of the 'IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants' project, which aims to produce conservation assessments for a representative sample of the world’s plant species. This information will then be used to monitor trends in extinction risk and help focus conservation efforts where they are needed most.


    Curcuma inodora is used in traditional medicine for the treatment of muscular pain. Tubers are mixed with water to form a paste, which is applied locally. It is also used in the treatment of psychosomatic disorders and constipation.

    An attractive plant with large, showy flowers, scentless turmeric is also cultivated as an ornamental.

    This species at Kew

    Pressed and dried specimens of Curcuma inodora are held in Kew’s Herbarium, where they are available to researchers from around the world, by appointment. The details of herbarium specimens of some other Curcuma species can be seen online in Kew’s Herbarium Catalogue.

    Tropical moist deciduous forest.
    Least Concern (LC) according to IUCN Red List criteria.

    None known.

    Ornamental, medicine.



    Common Names

    Scentless turmeric

    Curcuma inodora Blatt. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Identified Reference Herbarium Specimen Type Status
    Sep 1, 2005 Aboo [79], India K000459668
    Sep 1, 2005 [Verma] [687], India K000496032 Unknown type material

    First published in J. Proc. Asiat. Soc. Bengal 26: 357 (1930 publ. 1931)

    Accepted in:

    • [1] (2010) Taxon 59: 269-282
    • [6] (2006) Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 30: 773-775
    • [10] Govaerts, R. (1999) World Checklist of Seed Plants 3(1, 2a & 2b): 1-1532. MIM, Deurne


    • [2] Leong-Škorničková, J., Šída, O. & Marhold, K. (2010). Back to types! Towards stability of names in Indian Curcuma L. (Zingiberaceae). Taxon 59: 269–282.
    • [3] World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (2010). Curcuma inodora. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. (Accessed 12 March 2012).
    • [4] Jagtap, S. D. et al. (2009). Traditional ethnomedicinal knowledge confined to the Pawra tribe of Satpura hills, Maharashtra, India. Ethnobotanical Leaflets 13: 98–115.
    • [5] Rommand-Monnier, F. (2009). Curcuma inodora. Assessment using IUCN Categories and Criteria 3.1 (IUCN 2001). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [7] Raju, V. S., Reddy, C. S. & Ragan, A. (2006). Curcuma L. (Zingiberaceae) in Andhra Pradesh: a preliminary study. Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 30: 773–775.
    • [8] Reddy, S. et al. (2006). Ethnobotanical observations of some endemic plants of Eastern Ghats, India. Ethnobotanical Leaflets 10: 82–91.
    • [9] Patil, H. M. & Bhaskar, V. V. (2005). Medicinal uses of plants by tribal medicine men of Nandurbar district Maharashtra. Natural Product Radiance 5: 125–130.
    • [11] Mangaly, J. K. & Sabu, M. (1993). A taxonomic revision of the south Indian species of Curcuma. Rheeda 3: 139–171.


    Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (2017). Published on the internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp
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    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
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