Common Name: Lobster Claw
Scientific Name: Heliconia rostrata
Family: Heliconiaceae (Most closely related to bananas)

Heliconias in Costa Rica
Heliconias in Costa Rica




Range and Abundance:
Heliconias are native in the tropical region of Central and South America. In these areas, they are vastly abundant as long as there is plenty of water and nutrients in the surrounding area.

Coloration:
These plants are beautiful during the blooming season. They are a mixture of red, yellow, and different shades of green. Their leaves are red with different shades of yellow and green along the edges.

Morphology:
A heliconia plant can grow up to 7 feet tall. Their trunk reaches the highest point of 7 feet and then the stem will dangle down where cup like flowers form. These leaves are colorful and contain the stamen and anthers within. The trunk is classified as multi-trunked, and the leaves are classified as simple, alternate, ovate, pinnate, and evergreen.
Habitat:
A wet humid condition is perfect for the Lobster Claw. Their roots can withstand the clay acidic soil of the rainforest, but need wet conditions to survive. The tropical rainforest offers these conditions of sunlight and rain. They are mostly seen in the cloud rainforests where moisture is almost always abundant, but also thrive in normal tropical rainforest conditions.

Ecology:
Certain types of fungi and insects do pose as threats to the heliconia species. These pests will slowly deteriorate the leaves and the flowers until they wilt away.

Symbiotic Relationships:
Because the flowers form large tube like apparatus’, only specific animals can reach its nectar such as hummingbirds and a few species of bats. This symbiotic relationship allows the flower to spread its pollen and the animals to feed. Certain birds break the system and “cheat” allowing them to puncture the bottom of the flower with their beak and steal the nectar even though they are not adapted to do so. Also, certain non-threatening insects use heliconia’s flowers for protection.

A healthy heliconia is seen in the front while a diseased/rotted heliconia is in the back.  This is an example of either a fungi disease or an attack from insect pests.
A healthy heliconia is seen in the front while a diseased/rotted heliconia is in the back. This is an example of either a fungi disease or an attack from insect pests.



References:


Seifert, Richard. Principle Components Analysis of Biogeographic Patters Amont Heliconia Insect Communities. 1981. P 109-122. New York Entomological Society. http://0-www.jstor.org.helin.uri.edu/stable/25009247?&Search=yes&searchText=Rostrata&searchText=Heliconia&list=hide&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3DHeliconia%2BRostrata%26gw%3Djtx%26acc%3Don%26prq%3Dcharlie%2Bchaplin%26Search%3DSearch%26hp%3D25%26wc%3Don&prevSearch=&item=2&ttl=92&returnArticleService=showFullText

Stiles, Gary. Ecology, Flowering Phenology, and Hummingbird Pollination of some Costa Rican Heliconia Species. 2009, Volume 1-90. Ecological Society of America.
http://0-www.jstor.org.helin.uri.edu/stable/1934961?&Search=yes&searchText=Rostrata&searchText=Heliconia&list=hide&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3DHeliconia%2BRostrata%26gw%3Djtx%26acc%3Don%26prq%3Dcharlie%2Bchaplin%26Search%3DSearch%26hp%3D25%26wc%3Don&prevSearch=&item=1&ttl=92&returnArticleService=showFullText