Brought to you by Black Orchid Management, Ltd.
If you were to ask me what I like most about flowers, I will tell you, they make me happy. They are beautiful to look at. Have you ever seen someone gaze upon a beautiful flower and stay in a bad mood? NEVER! Flowers, lift our spirits, they can change our mood, they make us happy and it is the one way, that we can tell someone we love them, simply by handing them a flower. Please follow me on my journey through the Belize rain forest jungle, to explore all the different flowers there are to see. I sincerely hope you enjoy my series entitled "Flowers of Belize".
There are about 100 to 200 different species (heliconia family) of the heliconiaceae flowering plant - which is native to the tropics in Central and South America.
The leaves of this plant are paddle-shaped, and they are related to the banana family. Heliconias are sometimes called "lobster claws" or "parrot flowers", "parrot beak", "parakeet flower", "and parrot's plantain", because of their beak-like "bracts" which can be orange, purple, red, yellow, pink, green or a combination of these. A bract is a leaf structure at the base of a flower.
The heliconia's flowers are tiny and found inside these bracts, which are so large and colorful that they almost hide the flowers altogether. This keeps the flower's sweet nectar tucked away so that only specialized birds can get to it. Some species of heliconia have upright facing flowers, and in some called hanging heliconia, the flowers dangle down from the main stem. They are a close relative of the banana and bird of paradise.
Habitat: Heliconias are found throughout Belize and are actually quite common in tropical rainforests. They are also often found as ornamental plants in gardens and landscaped areas. People enjoy their colorful, gravity-defying ornamentation.
Did You Know? The heliconia, like the bromeliad, can also be home to other living things. Water collects in the bracts of the straight stems, which provides a habitat for many species of tiny aquatic organisms. Many other animals depend on the heliconia as well. Hummingirds and butterflies like to drink the sweet nectar from the heliconia’s flowers.
Heliconias are very beautiful and distinctive. For this reason, they should be used as the dominant flower in any floral arrangement. They can be used with other tropical flowers or alone with foliages.
The flowers are available year round and the vase life varies from 7 to 21 days. The commonly available colors are red, yellow, pink, orange, green and white. These flowers are not fragrant, very chill sensitive, and very pretty to look at.
Heliconiaceae have simple, alternate leaves that are often very large. The leaves tear easily and plants that grow in the wild often display tattered leaves. The leaf sheath around the stem, is often partly open at the top.
The bracts of upright-flowered Heliconiaceae harbor unique communities of insects, snails, and microorganisms. These flowers look awesome in a floral arrangement.