Turmeric is a perennial herb growing up to a height of about 1m (3ft). The leaves appear as tufts, alternately arranged, light green and rather flaccid. The plant’s robust, fleshy and aromatic rhizomes are orange-brown on the outside and the bright orange on the inside. Turmeric is propagated from rhizome divisions and grows well in well-drained, sandy loam soils and thrive when in the open and in full sunlight.
Due to the spice’s intense flavour and colour, turmeric is used in small quantities no loarger than pea-size. The juice extracted from the crushed rhizome is used to give color to ceremonial rice dishes such as Nasi Kunyit & Nasi Ulam. The plant’s leaves are also used fresh in Malay & Indonesian cooking, while in Thailand, young shoots and inflorescences are boiled as a vegetable.