Heliconia

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Heliconia

Heliconia
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Liliopsida
Order:Zingiberales
Family:Heliconiaceae
Genus:Heliconia
Species

See text

Heliconia is a genus of flowering plants native to the tropical Americas and the Western Pacific. Common names for the genus include Lobster-claw and False bird-of-paradise.

Heliconia is the sole genus of family Heliconiacae and has from 100-200 species, most of which are native to the Americas. Several species are grown for their showy flower clusters, which consist of brightly-colored waxy bracts, with small true flowers peeping out from the bracts. The growth habit of heliconias is similar to cannas, Strelitzia (Bird-of-paradise), and bananas, to which they are related; large, oblong leaves grow opposite one another on nonwoody stems, often forming large clumps with age.

Heliconias are grown for the florist's trade and as landscape plants. Some of the commonly grown garden species include H. Augusta, H. bihai, H. brasiliensis, H. caribaea, H. latispatha, H. pendula, H. psittacorum, H. rostrata, H. schiediana, and H. wagneriana. The flower of H. psittacorum, or Parrot Heliconia, is especially distinctive, for its greenish-yellow flowers and black spots bear a remarkable resemblance to a parrot's feathers.

Heliconias are an important food source for forest hummingbirds, some of which, such as the Rufous-breasted Hermit, also use the plant for nesting.


Gallery

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