Boesenbergia longiflora (Zingiberaceae) and descriptions of five related new taxa



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Taxa in the 

B.  longiflora clade can generally be distinguished from other 

Boesenbergia by a combination of characters: robust plants with few leaves, radical 

inflorescences  with  distichous  bracts  and  large,  two-day  flowers.  Their  annual  life 

cycle begins as seed, rhizome-like bulbs (

B. kerrii, B. longiflora) pieces of running 

rhizome (B. kingii) or mature rhizomes from the previous year. Growth begins in April 

or later, coinciding with the monsoon rains and continues through October when the 

weather becomes cooler and dry. All species are dormant for about five months. Plants 

of  B. maxwellii grown in a different climate (Hawaii) with rainfall throughout the 

dormancy period still follow their monsoonal cycle even after 20 years of cultivation 

(Mood, pers. obs.). 

Running rhizomes are found on all current B. kingii collections, including 

the putative hybrids. This character, at least in part, might account for its very wide 

distribution, whereas the other five species which propagate primarily through seed 

dispersal have a much smaller range. 

Specimens or pictures identified as B. longiflora in publications prior to this 

study should be re-determined. For instance, the plants studied by Gao et al. (2004) 

are not 


B. longiflora, but appear to represent B. kingii. Similarly, in Larsen & Larsen 

(2006), the Boesenbergia pictured on page 32 is B. maxwellii, while the yellow-

flowered taxon on page 48 appears to be B. collinsii. 

Long-term  observation  of  cultivated  gingers  combined  with  field  visits  to 

document ecology, geology, distribution, pollination biology and other elements has 

shown to be an excellent strategy for the study of Boesenbergia. The daily observation 

of multiple collections of various taxa from initial growth to dormancy provided 

insight well beyond that of field observations alone. 

The current study represents a small segment of an on-going research project 

whose goal is to improve the overall knowledge of Boesenbergia by re-examining 

nomenclature, improving descriptions, analysing genetic relationships and providing 

phytochemical profiles. Additionally, further investigation of the B. longiflora clade 

continues to include karyotyping, phenology, biogeography and conservation status.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. We would like to thank W. John Kress, Mike Bordelon, Lopez, 

Ingrid Pol-Yin Lin (US), Mark Newman (E) for assisting with specimens, plant photography 

and collection data.  Latin text was translated by Philip H. Oswald (Cambridge, U.K.). We 

thank Henry Noltie and Helen Yeats (E), Malcolm Beasley (BM), Penny Brook (British 

Library, UK), Gina Douglas (LINN), Louise B. Johansen (Denmark), Gitte Petersen (C), 

Finn Borchsenius and Olof Ryding (AAU), Nicholas Hind, Marcelo Sellaro, Lynn Parker, 

Tim Utteridge, Martin Xanthos, Katherine Challis (K) and Axel Poulsen (Oslo BG, Norway) 

for helpful discussion and assistance in preparatory research. Special thanks to Jana Leong-

Škorničková  (SING),  Peter  Boyce  (USM,  Malaysia),  Pieter  Pelser  (UC,  NZ)  David  Gang 

(WSU, USA), Ida Theilade (UC, Denmark) and Bob Faden (US) for manuscript assistance. 

Special acknowledgement to colleagues in Thailand: Poonsak Vatcharakorn, Pramote Triboun 

(BK) Yingyong Paisooksantivatana (KU), Piya Charlermglin (TISTR) and the staff at BK 

and BKF. In India, special thanks to Shri Jairam Ramesh, Minister of Rural Development

Jatrinda Sarma, Assam Forestry Dept.; Paramjit Singh, Director of Botanical Survey of India, 

89

Boesenbergia longiflora and related taxa




P. Lakshminarasimhan, B.K. Singh, R. Kumar; and Moaakum (Kohima Science College). The 

second author also thanks Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden for generously providing several 

years of financial support and The Field Museum of Natural History for current and on-going 

access to collections and facilities. Permissions for reprinting Figs. 1 and 2 were kindly granted 

by the Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew; for Fig. 14, by the Director, 

Botanical Survey of India, Kolkata, India. The original watercolours of B. collinsii, B. kerrii 

and B. maxwellii were accomplished in a historical style by Linda Ann Vorobik (UCB, USA). 

Colour plates were created by Tiffany D. Shafto (Hawaii, USA).



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