Heliconia, derived from the Greek word helikonios, is a genus of flowering plants in the Heliconiaceae. Most of the 194 known species are native to the tropical Americas, but a few are indigenous to certain islands of the western Pacific and Maluku. Many species of Heliconia are found in rainforests or tropical wet forests of these regions.
These herbaceous plants range from 0.5 to nearly 4.5 meters (1.5–15 feet) tall depending on the species. The simple leaves of these plants are 15–300 cm (6 in-10 ft). They are characteristically long and oblong, and alternate, or grow opposite one another on non-woody petioles that are often longer than the leaf.
They often form large clumps with age. Their flowers are produced on long, erect or drooping panicles, and consist of brightly colored waxy bracts, with small true flowers peeping out from the bracts. The growth habit of heliconias is similar to Canna, Strelitzia, and Bananas, to which they are related.
The flowers can be hues of reds, oranges, yellows, and greens, and are subtended by brightly colored bracts. The plants typically flower during the wet season. These bracts protect the flowers; the floral shape often limit pollination to a subset of the hummingbirds in the region.