Family : Heliconiaceae
Text © Pietro Puccio
English translation by Mario Beltramini
The species is native to Colombia, northern Brazil, Ecuador and Peru where it grows in the humid forests at low and medium altitudes.
The name of the genus comes from the Latin “Heliconius, a, um” = of the Helicon, mountain sacred to Apollo and the Muses in the Greek mythology; the species is honoured to the German botanist Karl Moritz Schumann (1851-1904).
Common names: bijauillo (Spanish-Peru).
The Heliconia schumanniana Loes. (1916) is an evergreen, perennial rhizomatous erect herbaceous species, forming dense 0,8-2 m tall tufts.
The leaves are basal, alternate, simple, entire, subsessile, elliptic to oblong-elliptic with long pointed, 12-28 cm long and 4-10 cm broad apex, of intense green colour above, paler below, with the sheathing tubular foliar bases forming a pseudo-stem.
The inflorescence, on a short peduncle, is an erect, 8-20 cm long, terminal spike, with slightly waved rachis of yellowish green colour and 3-10 bracts with pointed apex, concave and bent upwards, alternate, distichous, coriaceous, yellow at the base, red at the apex, 8-10 cm long, decreasing upward.
The bracts subtend up to about 10 tubular flowers having the characteristic sigmoid shape, 2 cm long, of yellow colour, opening in succession. The flowers, with bilateral symmetry, are hermaphroditic, with 3 sepals, two of which merged and one free, and 3 petals fused together, little differentiated between them, 5 fertile stamina and one staminode opposite to the free sepal; the flowers are pollinated by the hummingbirds. The fruits are subglobose drupes of blue colour when ripe, of about 1,2 cm of length and 0,8 cm of diameter, containing 1-3 seeds.
It reproduces by seed, previously kept in water for 3 days, in organic loam with addition of siliceous sand or agri-perlite for a 30%, maintained humid at the temperature of 26-28 °C, with germination times varying from 1 to 6 months, but usually and easily by division of the rhizomes in spring, with each section provided with several vegetative buds.
Species of relatively contained size little diffused out from the origin zones, mainly present in the botanical collections, cultivable in the humid tropical and subtropical climate regions, in full sun or slight shade on soils rich of organic substance, draining, acidic or neutral, maintained almost constantly humid, but without stagnations.
Due to its reduced size it could be an excellent subject to grow in pot, utilizing an organic substratum particularly draining and aerated, for decorating greenhouses, verandas and luminous winter gardens where the climate does not allow its permanence in open air during the winter times, with high values of ambient humidity and of day temperatures, ideal 24-26 °C, with lowest night values not less than 15 °C. The watering must be regular and abundant in summer, allowing the substratum to partially dry up before giving water again, avoiding the stagnations cause of easy rottenness, more spaced in winter, but without ever letting the substratum to dry up completely, with fertilizations preferably done with slow-release balanced products with addition of microelements.
Synonyms: Heliconia aureorosea Loes. (1916); Heliconia uleana Loes. (1916).
The photographic file of Giuseppe Mazza