Costus erythrophyllus is a tropical perennial native to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and northern Brazil. The most common form in cultivation grows to about 1 meter in height, with waxy leaves that are dark green on top, and deep purple underneath.
Described in the ancient Greece, the essential oil from the roots of the Costus is used for perfume. At that time the white and black Costus were known. The oil from the roots of the white Costus had a mild sweet odor, which had a slightly stronger scent of the black Costus. The ancient Arabs Costus used to make perfume, oils and ointments. Years later, the Chinese used the oil to make medications for traditional medicine. This is still valid in parts of China. Also, the oil is still used in incense and the smell can protect expensive clothes against harmful insects. There are now over 100 known species of Costus. The Costus Ruby Green has lovely waxy leaves with a nice dark green color on the top and a dark red color on the underside of the leaf. In the autumn the plant makes big pink / white flowers. If the flowers have finished, they can be picked out and there remains a beautiful ginger-like button on having a huge ornamental value.