Heliconia rostrata (Lobster Claw, False Bird of Paradise)

Previously placed in the Banana family, False Birds of Paradises are native to Central and South America. They are planted in tropical regions
Heliconia rostrata (Lobster Claw, False Bird of Paradise)
Deciduous: no
Hardiness Zones: 10-11
Height: 1.5-2.1 meters (5-7 feet)
Diameter: 1.0-1.8 meters (3-6 feet)
Growth Rate: fast
Age: perennial
Root System: rhizomatous, fibrous underneath
Family: Heliconiaceae
Subspecies: none known

Tolerates: drought and salt (moderate)
Problems (major): leaf spots (Cercospora and Helminthosporum), mealybugs, nematodes (Remove roots, but keep rhizomes, every few years to prevent nematodes from spreading.)
Problems (minor): scales
Poisonous: unknown, likely not

Soil requirements: grows in light, medium, or heavy (sand, loam, or clay) soils in most pH, prefers moist, nutrient-rich, well-drained soils
Air requirements: not sufficiently researched
Watering requirement: moderate
Sun requirement: full sun to partial shade

Leaf shape: paddle-shaped, long ovate lamina, dark green, borne on long petioles, simple, alternate, parallel veinage
Leaf size: may exceed 1 meter (3 feet) in length
Stem: not true stems (actually petioles or peduncle for leaves or flowers respectively) thick, clumping
Flowering structure: alternate red and yellow inflorescences, 4-30 boat-shaped bracts per peduncle (resembles a flower stalk), five viable stamens and three viable carpels per “claw”, bisexual (plants hermaphroditic)
Flowering frequency: spring and summer, persist for several weeks
Fruit: blue, contains 1-3 seeds, lacks orange fuzz (identifying feature for Bird of Paradise, Strelitzia ssp.)
Subterranean storage organ: rhizome
Monocot/Dicot: monocot
Monoecious/Dioecious: monoecious (flowers bisexual)

Notable characteristics: The inflorescences are unique in structure and very showy. Previous classification placed Heliconia ssp. in the banana family (Musaceae ssp.).

Uses: These are occasionally planted in tropical gardens for their ornamental inflorescences.

Sources used:

anging inflorescences of Heliconiacollinsiana

Foliage of Heliconia collinsiana

nflorescence close-up of Heliconia caribaea

oliage and inflorescences of H. caribaea

Emerging foliage of another Heliconia species

All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this article/online journal is appropriately cited first.


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