Heliconia

Heliconia at Heathcote

What’s blooming in our rainforest today?

Heliconia Humilis Illustration

Heliconia humilis (Jacquin, 1804)

Heliconias, also popularly known as lobster-claw, wild plantain or false bird-of-paradise, are an unusual looking tropical plant with banana-like leaves and beautiful, long lasting inflorescences composed of showy bracts which contain the true flowers.

They are native primarily in the American tropics from the Tropic of Cancer in Central Mexico to the Tropic of Capricorn in South America, including the Caribbean to tropical South America, as well as the Pacific Ocean Islands west to Indonesia. There are between 100 and 200 species in the genus.

These plants are not necessarily a good choice for every yard. They will need an area where they can spread 3 feet or more. If you have the room, let them naturalize an area for a very unique and tropical look.

On average, Heliconia can grow to about 3 or 4 feet tall, though some varieties can get much larger. The “Lobster Claw,” with its unique claw-like flowers, can grow 6 feet tall, and other types as much as 15 feet.

Heliconia is named after Mount Helicon, the seat of the Muses, the nine goddesses of the arts and sciences in Greek mythology.

Come visit our rainforest to see the heliconia in person.

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