Heliconia, derived from the Greek word helikonios, is a genus of flowering plants in the Heliconiaceae. Most of the species are native to the tropical Americas. Common names for the genus include lobster-claws, wild plantains or false bird-of-paradise. The last term refers to their close similarity to the bird-of-paradise flowers (Strelitzia). Collectively, these plants are also simply referred to as heliconias. As cut flowers, they can last approximately 2 weeks.
These herbaceous plants range from 0.5 to nearly 4.5 meters (1.5–15 feet) tall depending on the species. The simple leaves of these plants are 15–300 cm (6 in-10 ft). The growth habit of heliconias is similar to Canna, Strelitzia, and bananas, to which they are related. Heliconias multiply quickly.
Heliconias are grown for the florist's trade and as landscape plants. These plants do not grow well in cold, dry conditions. They are very drought intolerant, but can endure some soil flooding. Heliconias need an abundance of water, sunlight, and soils that are rich in humus in order to grow well.