This species, Heliconia schiedeana, native to Central America, is one of the rare species of this genus that can grow outdoors in southeastern France.
Heliconia is named after Mount Helicon, sacred mountain of the Muses in Greek mythology. The species name schiedeana is in honour of Wilhelm Schiede, a German doctor and naturalist.
Description and flowering period
It is a fast-growing herbaceous perennial reaching from 1.5 to 3 meters in height. The leaves are oblong, persistent and reach up to 1.5 meter in length. The inflorescence is hard and ramified and composed of large red bracts bearing yellow flowers (bracts are modified and specialised leaves encountered at the flowers’ base).
It requires a rich, fertile, water-retentive soil and a part-shade location in a subtropical climate. It tolerates strong winds but the leaves and stems die in case of prolonged frosts. If so, new leaves will emerge the following spring from underground rhizomes (underground stems).
- Ornamental. Cut flowers are also widely used in flower arrangements.
- Traditional craftsmanship: The leaves are used to make thatched roofs or as ties.
Translated by: François Saint-Hillier – MNHN