Heliconia caribaea

Common Name Wild Plantain
Type of Plant Other

Harvested wild and young as a tender, edible starch, this "flower" is found throughout South America and now, throughout the US as a popular ornamental. Heliconia caribaea is distinguished via its bright red and yellow flowers, which are actually modified leaves, that hold nectar to attract pollinators. It does not produce a trunk but can still reach heights up over 6 feet in optimal habitat. In addition to growing without a trunk, H. caribaea also grows without a stem! Rather, it is supported by a pseudo-stem which is a modified extension of its root system making it rhizomatous, like ginger or turmeric. Its uniquely shaped flowers and bright color give it the nickname "Lobster Claw" as well.

Requirements This plant is moderately salt tolerant and requires regular watering until well established in its position. Good drainage is best as standing water will increase its risk of root rot, though once mature this is a hardy grower!
Country of Origin Cuba, Haiti
Cold Tolerance 27
Sun Needs Full Sun
Water Needs Medium
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