Curcuma domestica—photo courtesy Baker Creek Seed.
COMMON NAMES: TURMERIC
TYPE: Tender perennial
LOCATION: Full sun
PLANTING: Grow from rhizomes and set out in the spring.
HEIGHT: 24 to 30 inches
SPREAD: 18 to 24 inches
FINAL SPACING: 24 inches
BLOOM/FRUIT: Interesting yellow flowers with pink bracts in summer.
GROWTH HABITS/CULTURE: Large 6-8 inches wide leaves with maroon band on both sides of the mid rib and aromatic rhizomes. It grows in clumps and tends to spread. It is a tropical herb that looks like ginger or a small banana plant and has exotic yellow and purple flowers.
PROBLEMS: Freezes if not protected. Few if any insect problems.
HARVEST/STORAGE: Dig and store the bright orange roots late summer or fall.
CULINARY USES: Flavor for pickles, rice, and soups. Used to give yellow color to curry powders.
MEDICINAL USES: Anti-inflammatory. Tea from roots is used to treat cancer and arthritis. Turmeric inhibits blood clotting and metabolizes fats according to Dr. Judy Griffin, author of Mother Nature’s Herbal.
LANDSCAPE USES: Use as an annual for interesting texture and dramatic flowers.
OTHER USES: Ornamental potted plant. Yellow dye plant.
INSIGHT: Turmeric is a tender ginger. It is used for yellow color to rice and other foods. The powdered root is sometimes sold as fake saffron for a much lesser price.
Tumeric from the market, planted in the garden, will withstand temperatures down to about 10 degrees.
Turmeric photos by listener Connie Kerr
From Connie Kerr: "This picture shows the turmeric root that I started
with. Note the little nodules on the rhizome – I soaked this in water and put in very wet soil."