The Heliconia, commonly known as the Crab Claw, forms a large tropical display from its’ number of pointed ‘claws’, or ‘beaks’, that curve out from the central green stem. The three main varieties that are sold are the traditional solid large red Crab Claw, the hanging pale Sexy Pink, and the smaller Parrot Flower. The stem of cut Heliconias can vary in length from 30 to 100 centimetres. The colourful bracts of the Heliconia will have green tips, and may be either red, pink, orange, yellow. Each glossy bract contains the true flower of the Heliconia, although in floristry the bracts should be closed or just opening.
Heliconias are native to America and the islands of the Pacific Ocean. They are grown for florists in other tropical regions also, from northern Queensland in Australia through to Indonesia. The flower has little or no scent, but is extremely appealing as food to Hummingbirds. In central America and the Carribean, the Honduran White Bat makes a tent from the leaves of the Heliconia plant to use as its home.
Heliconias can be easily arranged to look stunning by themselves or in large floral displays, together with their own tall glossy leaves and other tropical foliage. They are also a very popular plant for gardeners living in tropical areas, due to their lush foliage and spectacular flowers.