Heliconias in nature reserve Tinamú Birding

In the nature reserve Tinamú Birding there are 7 species of Heliconias and 3 of other zingiberales.

Heliconias and other species of platanillos are plants of the group of the Zingiberales that originate of tropical and subtropical forests of Center and South America. Thanks to the great biological diversity, in Colombia we have the highest number of species of Heliconias, about 95 species. The majority of the Zingiberales are distributed in humid climates tropical, under shade of at least 40%, between 200 and 2,200 msnm, nevertheless the majority of the species develops around the 1000 msnm. And most require a relative humidity of between 70 and 90%

These plants are characterized for being perennial and reproduce by rhizomes, that is to say that of underground way it is extending, producing new plants as its thick roots are spreading. Its structure is simple and produces no woody trunks or branches. These plants produce very colorful and very resistant inflorescences that can even have a life of up to a month or more. The inflorescences develop in the upper part of the main stem or of a stem.

Green Heliconia wagneriana 

Description: from 1,5 to 2,5 m high Leaf with petiole between 35 and 90 cm long and lamina between 90 and 220 cm by 25 – 30 cm. Inflorescence up to 50 cm long. It has 7 to 15 spastic figures, superimposed towards the base, red or pale yellow or almost white with pink red, or pale green with pink red, margins and green keels.

Distribution: In Colombia it is located to the north of the Pacific region, in the Caribbean region, in the middle of the Magdalena Valley and in the western Andean slopes. In Antioquia Atlántico, Caldas, Chocó, Cundinamarca, Magdalena, Risaralda and Santander.

Mixed group of yellow and orange Heliconia latispatha

Description: from 2 to 4 meters high, leaf with petiole between 20 and 80 cm long and sheet of between 75 to 150 by 20 to 35 cm. Inflorescence up to 45 cm long. With spines arranged in different senses (flexing) they can have between 8 and 14 spirals arranged in a spiral, elongated up to 22 cm in yellow or orange with red.

Distribution: is one of the most common species of Colombia in tropical and premontane regions.

Heliconia rostrata                

Description: 1.5 to 2 mts high, leaf with petiole between 20 and 60 cm long and lamina between 45 to 90 by 17 to 30 cm. Inflorescence hanging up to 50 cm long. With rachis arranged in zigzag that can have between 12 and 22 spats, up to 12 cm in red or orange with yellowish green tips.

Distribution: in tropical regions in Colombia in Caquetá, Meta and Putumayo.

Heliconia stricta

Description: 1.5 to 3 m high Leaf with petiole between 50 and 120 cm long and leaf between 90 and 160 cm by 25 – 30 cm. Inflorescence up to 50 cm long. It has 7 to 11 spastic figures, superimposed on the base, red or orange, with green margins and keels, or white and green, or yellow or borderless.

Distribution: In Colombia is located in the tropical zone of Amazonas, Antioquia, Boyacá, Caldas, Caquetá, Chocó, Cundinamarca, Meta, Putumayo, Risaralda, Tolima, Santander, Valle del Cauca, Vaupés.

Heliconia Vellerigera

Description: from 2.5 to 4 m high Leaf with petiole between 90 and 150 cm long and leaf between 120 and 250 cm by 30 – 40 cm. Inflorescence hanging up to 70 cm long. It has 7 to 15 pinkish colored spies, attached to the end of a pale orange S-shaped curved rachis. The spathes, rachis and petiole are covered by a fine white hair that gives a hairy or hairy appearance.

Distribution: In Colombia it is native to the Putumayo area.

Calathea crotalifera

Description: from 180 to 260 cm high Leaf with petiole between 100 and 160 cm long and sheet between 60 and 100 cm by 30 – 40 cm. Inflorescence erect up to 30 cm long, consisting of a group of up to 38 superimposed spats on top of each other about 4-5 cm long pale yellow greenish or yellow-orange

Distribution: In tropical region of Colombia.

Zingiber spectabile   (Introduced)

Description: from 150 to 450 m in height. The lanceolate leaves (in the form of spearhead) have a size of 30-50 cm x 6-10 cm. It produces a terminal inflorescence in an independent stem of 30 to 80 cm, profuse that has a cylindrical shape that resembles a maraca, its bracts are pale yellow, orange yellow or rosy red.

Distribution: It is native to southern Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra where plants grow under the shade of tropical forests. Surprisingly they have been shown to be tolerant to several degrees of frost, although they require a prolonged period to bloom.

Musa velutina

Description: also known as garden banana or banana chamois, this species of musace grows up to about 150 cm on a main stem with leaves up to 90 cm long and between 30 and 50 cm wide. Similar a banana plant but much smaller. The inflorescence is born in the upper part of the plant and an erect spine, can be up to 50 cm long. The flowers are pink. The fruit consists of small pink bananas with chamois leather that when they ripen open.

Distribution: it is native to India, where it is found in humid forests at low altitude.


  • LISTA PRELIMINAR DE LAS HELICONIAS DE COLOMBIA Y CINCO ESPECIES NUEVAS, W, Jhon Kress, julio Betancur, Cheryl S. Roesel, Beatriz E. Echeverry. 1993
  • COLECCIÓN NACIONAL DE HELICONIAS, Jardín Botánico del Quindío, 2017
  • HELICONIAS, LLAMARADA DE LA SELVA COLOMBIANA, Jhon Kress, julio Betancur, Beatriz E. Echeverry. 1999

Article by: Jesús de Orión

Translated by: Google