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".
This is one of the most colorful, bizarre and beautiful flowers of Belize. The intense colors, are a source of attraction for the hummingbirds, pollinating the flowers. You can see them scattered all over Belize's tropical rainforests.
Heliconia, is also popularly known as the lobster-claw, wild plantain or false bird of paradise. It is a beautiful flower with multi-color bracts (actually specially modified leaves), are shaped like an inverted bird's beak and are 3 to 4 inches long. Each has a green outline surrounding a broad band of yellow, which surrounds a central patch of bring red or orange. The true flowers, each of which remains open only one day, are small and insignificant in appearance and boren inside the boat-like bract. Heliconias are native to tropical Central America and the Pacific Ocean islands of west to Indonesia.
Costa Rica (a neighboring country to Belize) boasts of over 35 native species of Heliconia, one of the most commonly grown flowers for this country. Heliconias belong to their own plant family, but are closely related to the bird of paradise and the banana.
During the rainy season, a 5-foot tall flower stem emerges from these clustered leaves. There are two types of Heliconias. One that droops downward and one that stands erect.
The stand erect Heliconias, consist of 8 to 15 overlapping bracts. The droop down Heliconias depends on the type of hummingbird that does the pollination for the species. The pollinator of choice is the hermit hummingbird with a curved beak. Each bract is filled with water, forming a moat around the ovary that protects the seeds as they develop. Even if rain doesn’t fall, the plant will pump water into the bract to maintain the water level at the appropriate depth.
Heliconias are seldom offered as plants for sale in a garden center, but are more common used as cut flowers when designers want a brash and bold look. The Heliconias are used in floral arrangements, most often in hotel lobbies or areas which require a large floral statement or presence.
Facts About Heliconia
1. Heliconia is named after Mount Helicon, the nine goddesses of the arts and sciences in Greek mythology.
2. The Heliconia's bracts are so large and colorful, that they almost hide the flowers altogether. This keeps the flower's sweet nectar from other birds so that only specialized birds can get to it.
3. Heliconia has oblong leaves growing opposite one another on nonwoody stems, often forming large clumps with age.
4. Heliconias are grown as landscape plants.
5. There are some species of Heliconia which have upright facing flowers.
6. Some Heliconia flowers droop down from the main stem and are called hanging Heliconia.