Heliconias are the quintessential neo-tropical flowers. They are large, unusually-shaped and brightly coloured. The shape of the flowers is the result of an intricate relationship between the plant and the pollinator, usually hummingbirds.

Heliconia stricta

Heliconia stricta

In many Heliconias, tHe flower is shaped in such a way that only longbilled hummingbirds, often ‘hermits’ can reach the nectar. Since few species can reach the nectar, there is little competition and the pollinators are sure to find a good amount of nectar when they visit the flower. The hummingbirds therefore tend to visit flowers of the same species, and this increases the probability of pollination for the heliconias. However, to make sure that the hummingbirds visit enough flowers, not all flowers in the inflorescence contain nectar. Many are almost dry, while a few contain large amounts of nectar. Hummingbirds are thus obliged to visit a large number of flowers on the same inflorescence to get the nectar they need.

Heliconia chartacea

The specialisation of plant and pollinator may be one of the reasons why there are so many species of Heliconia. Through specialisation of pollinators, several, perhaps many, species can co-exist in the same habitat, because they use different pollinators.

Heliconia psittacorum

About keesgroenendijk

We are the owners of hotel Heliconia and Tanager tourism, two companies dedicated to Eco-tourism. We are located in Panama, on the west coast of the Azuero peninsula, close to Coiba Island and Cerro Hoya National Park. We provide accomodation and organise tours to Cerro Hoya, Coiba and other destinations.
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3 Responses to Heliconias

  1. Mooie en interessante planten.

  2. Wederom geweldig mooie foto’s, met al die puntjes die ik daaraan zuig kan ik wel een spijkerbed bouwen…

  3. GaPa Travel says:

    We´ve sent you a couple of messages. Would be great if you could send us your rates for 2016. We have some customers interested in staying at your place. Looks quite nice, though 🙂

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