Heliconia Psittacorum Fuschia
Heliconias belong to the Heliconiaceae family, which has only one genus (Heliconia) and between 200 and 250 species. These large tropical flowers are natives to only Central and South America, the Amazon rainforest and some islands of the South Pacific. They are attractive tropical plants with banana-like leaves and beautiful, long lasting inflorescences composed of showy bracts which contain the true flowers. They are frequently visited by birds such as hummingbirds and bananaquits. Hummingbirds insert their long beaks into the flower to drink nectar. Bananaquits employ a different strategy: they use their short, stout beaks to poke a hole near the base of the flower to get at the nectar within. Hummingbirds are the exclusive polinators of red, yellow , pink and orange heliconias, while nectar feeding bats are the polinators of green heliconias.
One species, Heliconia psittacorum has a "bonanza-blank" pattern of nectar production. Some of the flowers have abundant amounts of nectar while some do not have any nectar. Hummingbirds such as the Rufous-breasted Hermit therefore have to visit many flowers to find those with the nectar and thus facilitate cross-pollination.
Below are photographs of several of the heliconias found in Trinidad and Tobago.
Heliconia Bihai Balisier
Heliconia Psittacorum Choconiana
Heliconia Psittacorum Sassy
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