Heliconiaceae

Heliconia, derived from the Greek word Ἑλικώνιος, is a genus of flowering plants in the monotypic family Heliconiaceae. Most of the 194 known species are native to the tropical Americas, but a few are indigenous to certain islands of the western Pacific and Maluku. Many species of Heliconia are found in the tropical forests of these regions.

Most species are listed as either “vulnerable” or “data deficient” by the IUCN Red List of threatened species. Several species are widely cultivated as ornamentals, and a few are naturalized in Florida, Gambia, Philippines and Thailand. Common names for the genus include lobster-claws, toucan beak, wild plantains or false bird-of-paradise.

The last term refers to their close similarity to the bird-of-paradise flowers. Collectively, these plants are also simply referred to as heliconias.