Heliconia bihai – Macaw Flower

Heliconia bihai - Macaw Flower, Macawflower, Firebird (red inflorescence)

Heliconia bihai - Macaw Flower, Macawflower, Firebird

Plant Name

Scientific Name: Heliconia bihai

Synonyms: Bihai bihai, Heliconia humilis, Musa bihai

Common Names: Macaw Flower, Macawflower, Firebird

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial

Growth Habit: Herb/Forb

Hawaii Native Status: Introduced. This naturalized ornamental garden plant is native to the Caribbean and South America.

Flower Color: Green and white. The more conspicuous floral bracts are red, orange, yellow, green, or multicolored.

Height: Up to 20 feet (6 m) tall

Description: The relatively inconspicuous flowers rest inside thick, folded, upcurved, claw-shaped, alternate floral bracts on erect, up to 2 feet (0.6 m) tall inflorescences that are hidden below the leaves. The cupped floral bracts collect rainwater and can contain mosquito larvae. If pollinated, the flowers are followed by blue, hairless, egg-shaped fruits. The leaves are simple, alternate, long-petioled, two-ranked, and have green, oblong leaf blades with a lighter midrib, pinnate veins, and a rounded tip. Although the leaves are very banana-like, they do not droop on either side of the midrib like banana leaves. The pseudostems (formed by the leaf sheaths) emerge from branched underground rhizomes. The plants are upright and clumping.

Here in Hawaii, Macaw Flower is grown in gardens or found growing wild in moist, sunny to partly shady areas at lower elevations. The sturdy, colorful inflorescences 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
Subclass: Zingiberidae
Order: Zingiberales
Family: Heliconiaceae – Heliconia family
Genus: Heliconia L. – heliconia
Species: Heliconia bihai (L.) L. – macawflower

More About This Plant

Hawaii County Distribution Map