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Heliconia rostrata Ruiz & Pav.

False bird of paradise, hanging lobster claw, painted lobster claw

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassLiliopsidaMonocots (plants with a single seed leaf); includes the lily family
SubclassZingiberidaeGingers and related plants
OrderZingiberalesGinger, cardamom, turmeric, galangal, myoga, bananas, arrowroot, and others
FamilyHeliconiaceaeHeliconia family
GenusHeliconiaFrom the Greek word helikonios, home of a temple of Poseidon
Speciesrostrata“Beaked,” from Latin rostrum, “a bill, snout, or beak”

About plant names...

These striking heliconias are native to western South America. They escaped cultivation in Florida.

Identification: Plants are 6½-9½′ (2-3 m) in height. Leaves are on long petioles, 3-5′ (1-1.5 m) × 10-14″ (25-35 cm), green or bluish-green, sometimes tinged with red, apex tapering abruptly to a tip. Flowerheads are hanging, 12-24″ (30-60 cm) × 6″ (15 cm). Bracts are bright or dull red, widely spaced, up to 6″ (15 cm) long. The flowers are pale yellow or greenish yellow, and composed of six fused tepals.

Online References:

Hawaiian Plants and Tropical Flowers


Fayaz, Ahmed, Encyclopedia of Tropical Plants: Identification and Cultivation of Over 3000 Tropical Plants, Firefly Books, 2011, p. 305


Heliconia rostrata description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Heliconia rostrata (false bird of paradise, hanging lobster claw, painted lobster claw)

7/29/2023 · Guam · By Jacquelyn Boyt

Heliconia rostrata (false bird of paradise, hanging lobster claw, painted lobster claw)

2/3/2005 · Costa Rica · By Philip A. Despo

Range: Zones 10-12:

About this map...