Time for turmeric

November the time for turmeric? It is the time turmeric emerges from a long dormancy, it skips most of spring, and waits for the real heat to arrive – it is a tropical plant after all. In fact, almost 1/2 way through November and I only have one turmeric plant sprouting, I’m expecting many to emerge in coming days.

Last Autumn I dug them all up – see photo below. Sliced and dried they are being used for their culinary and medicinal qualities, while numerous rhizomes were put back for this summer’s crop.

Turmeric harvest

Meanwhile, I was fortunate to obtain some rhizomes of our native turmeric at one of our plant society meetings. Curcuma australasica is commonly known as the Cape York Lily, though it is no lily. The native species can be used in a similar way to the Asian species (Curcuma longa), the main difference being in the flowers, which appear when the plant first emerges from the soil, in my case in early November.

Curcuma australasica

Curcuma australasica. Native turmeric aka Cape York Lily.

Note that the pink “flowers”are actually bracts, concealing the much smaller true flowers. This plant can be easily cultivated, and it is available through several Queensland nurseries. It dodges winter by dying back, therefore it can survive non-tropical conditions. More information can be found here:

https://www.witjutigrub.com.au/index.php/info-sheets/22-native-turmeric-cape-york-lily-curcuma-australasica

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