Sep 162014
 

Heliconia is an unique flowering plant found in the wet tropical regions and the name collectively referred as a group of species closely resembling Canna, bird of paradise and banana plants. In some species of Heliconia like Heliconia psittacorum, the flowers look like that of bird of paradise. Hence the nick name “False Bird of Paradise”. Heliconias are grown widely as an ornamental plant in landscapes and it is more popular with the florists as it looks stunning in large floral arrangements.

Common Names (for popular species of Heliconia):

Lobster Claw, Heliconia, Hanging Heliconia, Erect Heliconia, False Bird of Paradise, Heliconia Golden Torch, Heliconia Orange Torch,  Heliconia Red Torch, Parrot’s Beak, Parakeet Flower, Parrot’s Flower, Parrot’s Plantain, Wild Plantain, Parrot Heliconia etc.

Family Name: Heliconiaceae (heliconia family)

The most common type of Heliconia that we often notice in and around our neighborhood is Heliconia rostrata. More popularly it  is known by the name “Lobster Claws” or “Hanging Heliconia” as its individual bracts are closely resembling the real Lobster’s Claws.  In this type, the flowers are subtended and protected by the colorful flower like bracts. These bracts are of bright red, orange or yellow colored and edged with a green or yellow touch. The inflorescence, bearing number of colorful bracts is always hanging downwards. We will be able to see the actual flowers which covered inside these bracts, only when the inflorescence matures.

 

Heliconia rostrata - Lobster Claws

Heliconia rostrata – Lobster Claws

Heliconia rostrata Plants

Heliconia rostrata Plants

Another one of Heliconia species called Heliconia stricta looks just like Heliconia rostrata but the bracts are pointed upwards not hanging downwards. Hence the name “Erect Lobster Claws”. [Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a picture of this kind to post here…]

One of the Hybrid named “Heliconia psittacorum x spathocircinata” is also a easy growing Heliconia species. The color of the bracts range from yellow, orange to red, named accordingly as Heliconia Golden/Yellow Torch, Heliconia Orange Torch or Heliconia Red Torch.

Heliconia Golden Torch

Heliconia Golden Torch

Heliconia Red Torch

Heliconia Red Torch

Few more species like Heliconia psittacorum are Heliconia latispatha also gaining popularity among the landscapers nowadays. {I don’t have pictures for these types too). Heliconia psittacorum is often referred to as Parrot Heliconia/Parrot’s Beak/Parakeet Flower/Parrot’s Flower/Parrot’s Plantain as the color of these flowers and the bracts resemble the plumage of parrot.

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