Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Heliconia is the sole genus of family Heliconiacae and has from 100-200 species, most of which are native to the Americas. Several species are grown for their showy flower clusters, which consist of brightly-colored waxy bracts, with small true flowers peeping out from the bracts. The growth habit of heliconias is similar to cannas, Strelitzia (Bird-of-paradise), and bananas, to which they are related; large, oblong leaves grow opposite one another on nonwoody stems, often forming large clumps with age.
Heliconias are grown for the florist's trade and as landscape plants. Some of the commonly grown garden species include H. Augusta, H. bihai, H. brasiliensis, H. caribaea, H. latispatha, H. pendula, H. psittacorum, H. rostrata, H. schiediana, and H. wagneriana. The flower of H. psittacorum, or Parrot Heliconia, is especially distinctive, for its greenish-yellow flowers and black spots bear a remarkable resemblance to a parrot's feathers.
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