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Common Name:
Lobster Claw

Latin Name:

Heliconia wagneriana

Family:

Heliconiacae

Range:

Cultivated throughout Central America
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Coloration and Morphology:

The Lobster Claw is medium sized and about 8-10 feet tall. It is a pale yellow with a bright pink center and a thin green layer. The leaves are long and usually grow opposite of each other. The flower of the Haliconia wagneriana produces nector in order to attract pollinators such as hummingbirds, insects, and bats. The seeds of the heliconia are mainly dispersed by birds.

Habitat:

Usually grows best in shade or partial shade.

Interactions with other Species:

There are many interactions between heliconia species and other naimals. For example, hummingbirds serve as a source of pollination and the heliconia serves as a food source for the hummingbird. There are long-curve billed hummingbirds (hermits), and there are short-straight billed hummingbirds (non-hermit). Both of these species of hummingbirds play a role in the pollination of the heliconia, whether it be self pollination or cross pollination. There is also an interaction between the heliconia and different insects. Insects help to pollinate, while the heliconia provides a nesting site for insects. Often times, an insect will lay its eggs in a water-filled leaf where the larvae can develop.



Personal Experience:

While we were in Costa Rica, we saw many different species of heliconia. This specific one was seen at La Selva Biological Station.

References:

Berry, Fred and Kress, John. Heliconia Identification Guide. Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991. Print.

Feinsinger, Peter. 1978. Ecological interactions between plants and hummingbirds in a successional tropical community. Ecological Monographs 48: 269-287.

Stiles, Gary. 1975. Ecology, flowering phenology, and hummingbird pollination of some Costa Rican Heliconia species. Ecology 56: 285-301.