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(A. Richard) Nakai. J. Jap. Bot. 17: 201. Apr 1941.
The single genus Heliconia has perhaps 225 species (only 180 have so far been described) that are distributed primarily in the neotropics. Heliconia has been variously associated with the banana family or the bird-of-paradise family, but is now placed in its own family Heliconiaceae. The inverted flowers, the presence of a single staminode, and the peach-like fruits are special features of Heliconia. Many species, varieties, and cultivars are now being grown as pot plants and for cut flowers. The name Heliconia is derived from Helicon, a mountain in southern Greece regarded by the ancient Greeks to be the home of the Muses, hence suggesting the relationship between these plants and the bananas (genus Musa).