Did You Know…?

Wild Plantain

Heliconia caribaea

The Wild Plantain is one of the largest species of Heliconia. Its large, upright, red inflorescence is composed mostly of large bracts; the greenish flowers barely protrude above the top edges of the surrounding bract. Rain water frequently collects in the trough portion of each bract. Once it was included in the Banana Family along with the Bird-of-Paradise Plant, but Heliconias are now in their own separate family, as is the case with the Bird-of-Paradise Plant.

Like the banana, though, each Heliconia shoot only produces one inflorescence, after which it dies back to the rhizome, to be replaced by a new leafy shoot that will bloom the following summer season. The inflorescence is quite showy and long-lived, hence it is frequently utilized in large-sized flower arrangements. Unfortunately, feral pigs will occasionally (especially during dry periods) eat the tender new shoots as they are sprouting from the rhizome.

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