Turmeric, or Curcuma, L. a genus of exotic plants, comprehending two species, namely : 1. The rotunda, having a round fleshy root, similar to that of ginger ; and 2. The longa, with long yellow roots, which spread to a considerable extent. Both are natives of India, whence their roots are annually imported by the East-India Company, paying 21. per cent, according to their value ; and a farther duty of 2 1/2d. per lb. for home consumption.
Turmeric has a weak, though agreeable, smell; and a bitterish, pungent taste : it is internally of a deep saffron-colour, which it communicates to watery infusions. - This drug is, by the Indians, principally employed for seasoning rice, and other culinary preparations : - it is reputed to be aperient, and of considerable efficacy in the jaundice ; but is chiefly consumed in dyeing the finest yellow colours, which are also the least permanent ; and giving a brighter, though perishable, shade to scarlet cloth. - See also Yellow.