Heliconia psittacorum

Heliconia psittacorum or Parrot’s Beak is native to tropical South America where it grows in thickets of rain forest in the lowlands or along roads.

Best suited for the warm greenhouse. It might prove difficult to keep it inside the house due to the low air humidity when the heating is on.


It can measure 1.20 m high, leaves may be between 15 cm and 100 cm long and 6 cm to 20 cm wide. They are oblong, dark green and leathery. The lower leaves have a long petiole, the upper leaves almost no petiole.

The flowers are erect, 9 cm long with long bracts 3-15 cm, usually orange and red at the top. The flowers are 2.5 to 5 cm long, they are tubular, orange, yellow or green top with dark green or black.

The fruits are rounded, 1 cm wide, yellowish to dark blue at maturity. They contain 3 seeds.

There are many cultivars and hybrids of Heliconia psittacorum the color of the bracts varies from pale yellow or pink to dark red.


Ornamental, cut flowers


Common names:

False Bird-of-Paradise, Heliconia, Parakeet Flower, Parrot’s Beak, Parrot’s Flower, Parrot’s Heliconia, Parrot’s Plantain


Bihai crassa, Bihai psittacorum, Heliconia aurantiaca, Heliconia ballia, Heliconia brasiliensis var. concolor, Heliconia cannoidea, Heliconia crassa, Heliconia hirsuta, Heliconia hirsuta var. cannoidea, Heliconia psittacorum var. rhizomatosa, Heliconia psittacorum var. schomburgkiana, Heliconia psittacorum var. spathacea, Heliconia schomburgkiana, Musa humilis


Heliconia: from the Latin heliconius (from Helicon, a sacred mountain in Greek mythology)
Psittacorum: from the Latin psittacus (parrot)


Tropical South America


Tropical rainforest


USDA zone 10-11, 10 °C



Nutritious, moist but well drained.
A mix of peat moss, sand and compost.


Sun, light, partial shade


Never let the substrate dry out


Fertilize monthly during growing season


Maintain a temperature of minimum 15 °C the whole year round, ideally a constant temperature of 25 °C


Seed, division of rhizomes

Sowing instructions:

  • scarify the seeds
  • soak the seeds 4 days in tepid water
  • sow 2 cm deep in a light mix and moisten
  • place the pot in a heated mini-greenhouse or plastic bag which you close
  • 25-30 °C
  • germination: 1-2 weeks if seeds are fresh, longer if seeds are not fresh