Black Turmeric

Black Turmeric was mentioned in another discussion and as I had never heard of it before, this led me down another one of those rabbit holes. So here are the results. Certainly seems to have lots of medicinal uses.

Black Turmeric

Curcuma caesia – Black Turmeric.[1] Black Zeodary. [2] Kali Haldi (Hindi). Black Haldi. Kari Manjal (Tamil).


Description – Perennial herb growing from rhizomes, to .5 - 1.2 meters. Rhizomes have a blue to purple flesh instead of the bright orange of turmeric. Wide, elongated leaves with a red or purple stripe on the mid-rib. Flower bracts are green turning pink to deep red with age. Small flowers are yellow with a reddish border.

Habitat – Native to the Himalayan region, north-east and central India. Does best in humid, deciduous forests in an acidic soil. Prefers partial shade but grows well in full sun. Hardy to zone 9. Black turmeric should not be harvested from the wild as this is an endangered plant.

Medicinal Uses – Antioxidant. Anti-inflammatory. Analgesic. Anti-diarrheal. Antibacterial. Anti-asthmatic. Bronchiodilator. Anthelmentic. Anti-convulsive. Anti-ulcer. Anti-tumour. Anxiolytic. Antifungal. Anti-emetic. Diuretic. Stimulant. Smooth-muscle relaxant. Energetics: Bitter, warming, drying. Traditional Uses in India [i], [ii]: Used for stomach ache, ulcers, indigestion, dysentary and vomiting. Used similarly to ginger as a preventative for motion sickness. Also used to treat asthma, epilepsy, leprosy, hemorrhoids, cancer and typhoid fever. Topically, the fresh root can be used to relieve pain from bruising. Applied to the forehead, it is said to stop migraines. A fresh paste of the root is applied to wounds or snake or scorpion bites. Research: Scientific studies show antioxidant, anti-inflammatory anti-microbial and anti-ulcerogenic properties. ii, [iii], [iv]  Antibacterial activity has been demonstrated against several types of bacteria.[v], [vi] Other studies show anti-mutagenic/anti-cancer properties but more research is needed.[vii], [viii] May prove useful in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes and resulting complications such as diabetic neuropathy.[ix]

Parts Used – Root.       

Harvest – In late fall or winter when the plant has died back.

PreparationUsed fresh or prepared by boiling before being dried.

Other Uses – Can be used sparingly in cooking. Its flavour is stronger than regular turmeric. It is most often added to food as a nutritional supplement rather than for flavour. Add to smoothies. Sometimes mixed with black pepper to be used as a table spice. Used in folk tradition as a talisman to keep away evil spirits and to indicate abundance or prevent a shortage of food grains in the home.

Constituents – Flavonoids. Phenolic acids. Terpenes; camphor, cineole, curcumenole, curcuzederone, epicurzerenone, eucalyptol, germacrene, isoborneol, ocimene, santalol, alloaromadendrene. Retinol. Vitamins C. Barium, calcium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, silicon, sulphur.

Cautions or Contraindications – Not for use during pregnancy or lactation. Anyone taking blood thinners should consult a health care practitioner before using black turmeric. Curcuma species should be avoided for 2 weeks prior to any surgery.

Other species: There are over 130 species of Curcuma. The most commonly used or available other species in addition to C. caesia are:

Curcuma alismatifolia – Siam Tulip. (sold as cut flowers)

Curucuma amada – Mango Ginger. (similar to ginger with a mango taste)

Curcuma angustifolia – Narrow-leaved Turmeric. East Indian Arrowroot.

Curcuma aromatica – Wild Turmeric. (cream coloured root, used in cosmetics)

Curcuma comosa – Wan Chak Motluk. (widely used spice in Thailand).

Curcuma longa – Turmeric. Yellow Turmeric. Yellow Haldi.

Curcuma zeodaria – White Turmeric. White Zeodary.

[1] The name Black Turmeric may also refer to Kaempferia parviflora, another genus in the Zingiberaceae family. It is also called Black Ginger, Thai Black Ginger, Thai Ginseng or Krachai Dum.

[2] Not to be confused with Zeodary which is a different species, Curcuma zeodaria. See Other Species below.




[iii] Satyendra Singh Baghel, Rajendra Singh Baghel, Kshamashil Sharma, Indu Sikarwar Pharmacological activities of Curcuma caesia Department of Pharmacology, Shri Ram College of Pharmacy, Banmore, Madhya Pradesh, India


[v] Sweetymol Jose, T. Dennis Thomas Comparative phytochemical and anti‑bacterial studies of two indigenous medicinal plants Curcuma caesia Roxb. and Curcuma aeruginosa Roxb Research and Development Centre, Bharathiar University, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, 1Department of Botany, St. Thomas College, Palai, Arunapuram, Kottayam, Kerala, India






  • jowitt.europe
    jowitt.europe Posts: 1,411 admin

    @torey thank you for sharing the results of your research. I have never heard of it. Again a new and a very useful plant to learn.

  • annbeck62
    annbeck62 Posts: 994 ✭✭✭✭

    @torey thanks for taking the time to do the research. There are so many uses, many I was not familiar with.

  • Cornelius
    Cornelius Posts: 872 ✭✭✭✭

    This variety is very cool. I will look into seeing if I can grow some. I am currently growing the normal golden variety for the first time so hopefully it goes well.

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,132 ✭✭✭✭

    Who knew there were so many types of turmeric. Thanks for doing this research and posting it for the rest of us.

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,584 admin

    Wow @torey this is a really good write up.

    I had read that there was a purple tumeric that was becoming highly desirable as it didn't stain nearly as bad as the orange tumeric does. I wonder if this is the same?

    I'm loving living in PR as fresh local tumeric is sold at the farmers markets here.

  • I live in zone 8a in eastern North Carolina and my neighbor (from Thailand) grows turmeric prolifically. She gifts me with a bucket full fresh every spring. I have planted it several times and though it comes up and sprouts leaves I have never (in three years) been able to harvest a usable tuber. What am I doing wrong? We have a huge communication barrier and she just tells me to leave in in the ground, but then it just rots.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,502 admin

    Welcome to TGN's forum @Carolyn Fielder.

    I'm afraid I can't offer any advice on growing turmeric. I live in zone 3b/4a in Canada so no chance of me growing it.

    Maybe get to know your neighbour well enough to spend time in her garden and see what she is doing differently to you?

    Other forum members have mentioned growing turmeric so I'm sure you will get other advice. But perhaps start another discussion about growing turmeric with your question, so it doesn't get lost in this discussion.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,356 admin

    @Carolyn Fielder Welcome! I have tried to grow ginger indoors and Ive only got it to grow for a little while. I have not tried turmeric. I'm like Torey and would never e able to grow either outdoors for any length of time.

    I agree with Torey. Starting a new discussion asking for advice & tips sounds like a great idea!

    @torey Maybe you should still experiment with how it could grow outdoors in your short growing season, even under a cold frame for extra season length. Just a bit wouldn't cost much and it could be interesting to see what you might get.

  • julieart01
    julieart01 Posts: 6 ✭✭✭

    Hello, I am growing ginger and turmeric in my garden in southern california with minimal results. My friend gave me some ginger that her Mom grew and it was plump and gorgeous! I asked her the secret and she said to leave it in the grown for several years. 3 years to be exact. So my guess is that it needs to establish a good root system. Carolyn, I would suggest adding some sand to your soil where you are growing so that it is does not rot. It dies back here in the winter but loves heat and humidity. I hear that it grows well in Florida. It likes a little shade in Florida. On utube the Aussie fellow (can't remember his name, sorry) can grow ginger really well in his warm climate. Maybe grow in big wide buckets with good drainage where you could put it in the garage for the winter?

  • water2world
    water2world Posts: 1,088 ✭✭✭✭

    @torey Thanks for sharing your research! I would love to have the blue or purple variety--I'm so use to seeing the bright orange!

  • amandagreter
    amandagreter Posts: 1

    I think you're referring to Mark of Self-Sufficient Me. He has a great YouTube channel.