This is a fast growing Heliconia rising about 5 to 7 inches in stature. This is a cannoid heliconia (like a Canna Lily) that multiplies quickly as its rhizomes send many stalks up at a time and leaves developing off the central stem at regular intervals. The inflorescence has an erect habit producing 4 to 7 distichous (arranged in two opposing rows on either side of a stalk) red bracts on a gyro pattern on a slim rachis with showy orange flowers contrasting beautifully with the red bracts. (Kepler, A. K. 1999. Exotic Tropicals of Hawaii.)
Heliconias have become increasingly popular as decorative flowers, especially in those regions where they cannot be grown in the garden. Heliconia are grown for their beautiful, brilliant colorful flowering bracts. They require bright light and are heavy feeders of any well balanced fertilizer. (Kepler, A. K. 1999. Exotic Tropicals of Hawaii.)
Although these large tropical flowers are natives to only Central and South America-the Amazon rainforest- and some islands of the South Pacific, their easy cultivation and spectacular presence have made them favorite garden subjects throughout the world.
In the American Tropics, hummingbirds are the exclusive polinators of red, yellow , pink and orange heliconias while nectar feeding bats are the polinators of green heliconias. (Kepler, A. K. 1999. Exotic Tropicals of Hawaii.)
This heliconia species is names after the landscape designer Roberto Burle Marx who filled his estate with collections of plants, paintings, sculpture, pottery, and religious art, the accumulated treasures of a long and creative life. Now Sitio Roberto Burle Marx is open to the public. Botanists and landscape architects journey to the horticultural oasis in Barra de Guaratiba, on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, to view its comprehensive plant collections. At once a laboratory and an exhibit space, the one-hundred-acre estate displays more than thirty-five hundred tropical and semitropical plant species in its greenhouses and gardens. Even ordinary plant lovers come to admire the myriad varieties of bromeliads and heliconia plus 250 species of palms. Among the latter is a specimen from Ceylon that blooms once every seventy or eighty years; it flowered just before Burle Marx's death. Some three thousand specialized books on botany, architecture, and landscaping attract scholars to the study center. It is exactly as Burle Marx would have wished it. In 1985, while continuing to live at the Sitio, he deeded the property to the federal government in trust for posterity. His dream was to establish a school for landscape architects and botanists and to open the site to the visiting public, thus avoiding subdivision of the property after his death and ensuring that his collections would remain intact. (Wyels, J. G. Americas Magazine. 2001.) (Information for this species compiled and recorded by Camelia Cirnaru, NTBG Consultant.)
Although Heliconias flourish in the humid lowland tropics at elevations below 1500 feet, surprisingly, the greatest number of species are found in middle elevation rain and cloud forest habitats. The most remarkable members of the genus inhabit open sites in secondary growth along roads, riverbanks and in patches of light in the forest. (Kepler, A. K. 1999. Exotic Tropicals of Hawaii.)
We currently have 5 herbarium specimens for Heliconia hirsuta in our collection. Click on any specimen below to view the herbarium sheet data.