Biodiversity in Belize
Biological Diversity in Belize
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Checklist of the vascular plants of Belize

Co = Corozal District
OW = Orange Walk District
Be = Belize District
Cy = Cayo District
SC = Stann Creek District
To =Toledo District

Heliconia's native to Belize

Heliconia page provided by: Jan Meerman

Heliconia species are medium to large herbs related to banana's. The inflorescence is often large and attractive and many Heliconia's are grown for use in flower arrangements. The inflorescence is almost always terminal on erect, leafy shoots. It has either an erect or pendent orientation (erect in the diagram to the right), with respect to the leafy shoot from which it emerges. The inflorescence is made up of the peduncle and modified leaflike structures known as bracts (or spathes), the rachis connecting adjacent bracts. Within each bract there is a coil of inconspicuous flowers. The fruits also develop within the bracts. The bracts are often filled with water and form a distinctive aquatic micro-ecosystem.

Heliconia structure

Picture gallery of Heliconia species found in Belize:

Click the images to get a larger picture

Heliconia aurantiaca

Heliconia aurantiaca Ghiesbr.

Smaller species (1.5 m - 5 ft) with a compact, relatively small, erect inflorescence. Found in the forest understory, usually on limestone based soils. This species does not tolerate heavy clearing and disturbance. Found in the Cayo and Toledo Districts.

Heliconia bourgaeana Petersen

Large species with erect inflorescence. The color of the bracts varies from mottled red to pure yellow. The yellow variety is know as var. "Maya Gold". Distributed in the Cayo, Stann Creek and Toledo districts.

Heliconia bourgaeana
Heliconia collinsiana

Heliconia collinsiana Griggs

Large plant (3 m - 10 ft) with pendant reddish pink inflorescence. Unmistakable because of the white, waxy undercoating of the leaves. Growing under disturbed conditions in the Stann Creek and Toledo districts.

Heliconia latispatha Benth.

The most common Heliconia in Belize. Found in all districts (except Corozal?) in lowland under open, disturbed and moist conditions. The erect inflorescence is orange. Occasionally red specimens are found.

Heliconia latisphatha
Heliconia librata

Heliconia librata Griggs.

Medium sized species with yellow, erect inflorescence. Uncommon. Within Belize known only from forest habitats in the Stann Creek and Toledo districts.

Heliconia mariae Hook.

Huge plant (> 3 1/2m - 12 ft) with pendent inflorescence. The inflorescence is not as attractive as most other species. Within Belize it's distribution is limited to a distinct area in the Toledo district. But there very common and a terrible weed in disturbed areas.

Heliconia mariae
Heliconia spissa

Heliconia spissa Griggs.

Distinctive species. Recognizable even when not in flower by the ragged looking leaves. Typical of limestonehills. Distributed in the Orange Walk, Belize, Cayo and Toledo districts.



Heliconia vaginalis mathiasiae (Daniels & Stiles) L. Anderson

Relatively small species (< 2m - 7 ft). Usually found inside forests on slightly acidic soils. Not capable of surviving open, heavily disturbed conditions. Found in Belize, Cayo, Stann Creek and Toledo districts.

Heliconia vaginalis
Heliconia wagneriana

Heliconia wagneriana Petersen.

Medium sized species. Inflorescence erect. Relatively common in disturbed areas. Found only in the Toledo district.

Heliconia cf. tortuosa Griggs

Recently discovered in the Columbia River Forest Reserve in the Toledo district. Identification somewhat uncertain. This is a relatively low plant (1 m - 3ft). The bright red inflorescence is erect.

Heliconia tortuosa?

Heliconia unidentified species

Recently discovered in the Mayflower Bocawina National Park. This species keys out to H.tortuosa, but is still quite different from the above Columbia River Forest Reserve species. Most notably, the inflorescence is larger and the whole plant is very tall (3 1/2 m - 12 ft). All in all this is a much more elegant plant. The inflorescence is orange-red. The sepals, ovaries and pedicels are all yellow. Young shoots have white waxy coating.

Heliconia rostrata Ruiz & Pavon

The well known "Crabsclaw" or "Lobsterclaw". Not a native species, but probably the most widely planted ornamental Heliconia in Belize. The spectacular inflorescence is pendent. Successfully reproduces from seed and tends to get established in near areas where it is being cultivated.

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Last modified: June 4, 2004