Also known as wild banana, these red and yellow flowers resemble small, closed crab claws. There are more than 40 species of these plants, which are in the Heliconiaceae family. These flowers grow on a spike in an alternating formation; the blooms face in opposite directions from one another as if woven. Some species are more tightly woven than others; some species may have alternating bracts that are separated by a few inches of space, while others look as if they are growing right out of the one bract beneath it. The colorful parts are actually called bracts, and the flowers are very small and are protected inside these bracts. The bracts are predominantly red and rimmed with yellow. However, some are more yellow-orange than others; and a few species, such as the Heliconia Angusta, are all yellow.
Monkey Tail (pictured)
Acalypha hispida is an ordinary evergreen shrub on the Caribbean islands that has large tear-drop-shaped leaves. Among these grow red flowers in a long cluster resembling a tail. Other common names are Red Hot Cat Tail or the Chenille Plant. Chenille means caterpillar in French, and indeed the soft blooms can look like caterpillars as well as tails. These plants can grow quite tall (around 8 feet), and the fuzzy "tails" can grow as long as a real tail (12 to 18 inches). These bloom year round and can make for an interesting addition to flower arrangements.
Anthurium andraeanum is a heart-shaped flower that grows on a shrub of large shiny green heart-shaped leaves. The shrubs can grow to be around 3 feet tall. Other common names are flame flower or flamingo lily. What may look like to be the flower's one and only large petal is actually called a spathe or bract. These shiny spathes are ordinarily pink but come in many other colors such as red, purple, orange, yellow or white. In the center of each of these spathes is a protruding spadix (about the size of a small cigar) that is composed of the actual tiny flowers.
Article Written By Naomi Judd
Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.