Heliconia Family

Roger Spencer

Dwarf to large rhizomatous herbs. Aerial stems rather short with leaf sheaths forming a pseudostem, or elongate and the internodes covered with leaf sheaths. Leaves in 2 ranks, like those of the banana. Flower clusters terminal, upright or pendulous, gathered in the axils of rigid, showy, laterally spreading bracts. Flowers bisexual, the sepals and petals variously fused. Fertile stamens 5, sterile stamen 1. Ovary inferior, of 3 chambers. Fruit a 1-3 seeded berrylike capsule.

Banana-like plants grown in the tropics for the showy bracts in spectacular upright or pendulous clusters. Closely related to both the Musaceae and Strelitziaceae.

Popular as cut flowers; in Melanesia the leaves are used as a food wrap and the immature flowers are eaten cooked.

Banana-like plants with 2-ranked leaves; flowers bisexual; ovules and seed 1 per ovary chamber; seeds without arils (cf. Strelitziaceae).

1 genus of about 200 species mostly from tropical America, especially the N Andes and southern C America, a few species in the Pacific Islands.

Source: Spencer, R. (2005). Heliconiaceae. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 5. Flowering plants. Monocotyledons. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Magnoliopsida
superorder     Lilianae
order      Zingiberales
Higher taxa
Subordinate taxa
genus        Heliconia L.