Monday, February 11, 2008

Heliconia of My Eyes

I have always loved the heliconia.

Beyond the plumeria (or kemboja), which I had paid tribute to, more than a year ago, in my blog (..dan bunga-bunga berguguran.. and Kemboja of My Eyes), I love the heliconia. If I love the plumeria because of its gravity-defying branches, I love the heliconia because of its exotic flowers. Unlike the Bougainvillea, which you can practically find anywhere in Malaysia, one don't find heliconia just about anywhere.

As explained earlier, we have always associated the plumeria/kemboja with the graveyard. Actually, it is such a wonderful tree to be planted in the yard with its sweet smelling flowers. Heliconia, on the other hand, would complement our tropical garden in such a way that these two plants have become almost always associated with the Balinese Garden.

For some reasons, the heliconia are not native to Malaysia, though they native to the tropical Americas and the Pacific island west to Indonesia. I guess that explained with they are essential to the Balinese in decorating their garden.

Their flowers are produced on long, erect or drooping panicles, and consist of brightly colored waxy bracts, with small true flowers peeping out from the bracts [Wikipedia]

I have at least 3 specie of the heliconia; the pleasant looking drooping-heliconia rostratta, the more common heliconia latispatha and the exotic looking, if I identify it correctly, heliconia wagneriana.

Top left - the latispatha, and (right) the rostratta

Rostratta is easy to grow and it will produce flower regularly. Rostratta flower has a hairy texture; more like hair stubs actually, so it will take sometimes to get used to it. The problem with the heliconias is that they are generally a bit 'naughty' - nakal was the word used by one landscape artist and will spread itself throughout the garden if you don't maintain them well and soon the whole garden will be taken over and overwhelmed by them.

However, top of my list is the wagneriana. I don't have that many; and their flowering has been few and far in between. But I would like to celebrate the day when four of them produced flowers at about the same time.

They are the flowers of my eyes and mind.

1 comment:

  1. Nice heliconias !

    Check out to see more than 10 species growing in a balcony in Penang :-)