Scientific Name: Heliconia rostrata
Common Names: Hanging Lobster Claw, False Bird of Paradise, Lobster-claw, Crab Claw, Hanging Heliconia
Growth Habit: Herb/Forb
Hawaii Native Status: Cultivated. This ornamental garden plant is native to Central and South America.
Flower Color: Yellow. The more conspicuous floral bracts are brilliant scarlet-red to pink and edged with yellow and green.
Flowering Season: Year-round
Height: 5 to 20 feet (1.5 to 6 m) tall
Description: The inconspicuous, yellow flowers emerge from claw-shaped bracts on magnificent, up to 3 feet (0.9 m) long, pendent, zigzagged inflorescences. If pollinated by hummingbirds or nectivorous bats (neither of which are found here in Hawaii), the flowers are followed by violet fruits. The leaves are simple, alternate, long-petioled, and have green, lanceolate leaf blades that are easily shredded by the wind. The pseudostems (formed by the leaf sheaths) emerge from underground rhizomes.
Here in Hawaii, Hanging Lobster Claw is grown in sunny to partly shady gardens at lower elevations. The plants are propagated by rhizome division. The flowers make long lasting cut flowers in tropical flower arrangements.
Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
Family: Heliconiaceae – Heliconia family
Genus: Heliconia L. – heliconia
Species: Heliconia rostrata Ruiz & Pav. – false bird of paradise