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Genus of the Week

Week of August 24-30

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You may have noticed that the Genus of the Week has not been updated recently. You also may have had trouble accessing this page. Both of these things are due to a problem with our web server that I have been working very hard to fix. Please keep stopping by; once the web server problem is fixed the Genus of the Week will be back!!

This page has been created for people who want to learn more about plants, especially in the context of their taxonomy (Latin names, etc.). This is by no means an exhaustive list of all available Web resources on a particular genus.
Visit the Land of the Glandular Trichomes, a microscopic look at plants in the Lamiaceae family.

This week's genus:


Subclass: Monocotyledoneae
Superorder: Commelinidae
Order: Zingiberales
Family: Strelitzaceae
Number of Species: About 50
Root: named for Mt. Helicon, a 5,738 foot high mountain (and supposed home of the nine Muses) located in Boeotia, a region of Greece.

Plants in the genus Heliconia are native to the tropical regions of the Americas. They are found in the same family as the Bird-of-Paradise (Strelitzia sp.), and have similarly sheathed flowers. Because of their odd-shaped inflorescences (a common name for this genus is "Lobster Claw"), they are often grown as ornamentals or used in flower arrangements. This genus is the insignia for the government in Trinidad.

Here are a few links to images and descriptions of different Heliconia species:


  1. Hargreaves, Dorothy and Bob. Tropical Blossoms of the Caribbean. Lahaina, Hawaii, Ross-Hargreaves: 1960.
  2. Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.
  3. Neiring, William A. and Nancy C. Olmstead., eds. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region. Alfred A. Knopf, New York: 1979.

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