Friday, April 18, 2014

Heliconia x nickeriensis - The Parakeet Flower

Heliconia x nickeriensis (Parakeet Flower, Parrot's Beak) is a hybrid between H. psittacorum and H. marginata. It can be planted in partial shade to full sun and is almost disease-free. A very vigorous growing plant, it can reach up to about 6 to 8 feet in height and is a prolific bloomer. It likes humidity and with fertilizer, produces blooms throughout the year.
The more colourful orange parts are actually the bracts. Bracts are orange-red with a yellow border and yellow rachis. The wide stretch of the bract makes an ideal perch for this tiny sunbird.

The striking colours make them stand out dramatically against the green foliage. They can also be planted in containers and make excellent cut flowers.
Its tall upright lance-like leaves have long leaf stalks that look more like banana leaves. 

A colourful insect bearing the same colours as the bract-flowers purposefully ascends, towards the flower spikes.

The 'stem' is actually made up of rolled leaf bases and the flowers emerge from the centre. When the flowers fade, the stems should be pruned off to to encourage new growth and also to generally tidy up for improved appearance.

Heliconias are generally invasive. As seen here, it has invaded a flower bed of Allamanda cathartica.

Red-green leaves of Dracaena marginata, tiny red flowers of Russelia equisetiformi and Heliconia nickeriensis  growing happily in tight confines.

This series of pictures were taken very early in the morning when it was still not bright.

A female sunbird landed on one of the bracts to ponder the nectar within.

When it was done, it suddenly took flight. I didn't have time to dial up the shutter speed, resulting in a blurred image.

The maturing flower spike.

A fully formed bloom with eight tiers of bracts. 

  A solitary ant did an investigation of the flower.


A bee posturing at the tip of a true flower.  

   An Oriental Magpie-Robin (Copsychus saularis) hope from a flower pot onto the ledge of the flower planter box and ... 

rest under the shade of the foliage.


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