Heliconia wagneriana flowers easy to find in Municipio de Livingston, Izabal

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Found three areas with flowers of Heliconia wagneriana along road from town to Livingston to Aldea Plan Grande Tatin

In early March we went from the town of Livingston to the cave named Cueva del Jaguar. The first dozen or so kilometers was in the back of a 4-wheel drive pickup truck. Then from the village of Aldea Plan Grande Tatin we hiked a few kilometers to the Cueva del Jaguar. Along the road and along the trail we found at least three areas with a few Heliconia wagneriana in full flowering. Since this species of Neotropical plants is not as common as Heliconia latispatha, we returned on March 13th (2020) to dedicate more time to photograph the inflorescence stack that has the open bracts out of which rise the flowers and eventual seeds.

We found at least three areas where Heliconia wagneriana was flowering (we found over one million Heliconia latispatha plants, literally, in the same areas along the same road and trail). All the Heliconia wagneriana were within a few meters of the (dirt-gravel road) or within a few meters of the trail that went from Plan Grande Tatin to Cueva del Tigre (Jaguar). The millions of Heliconia latispatha plants were on the hillsides and fields visible from the road. I have not often seen such a concentration of wild native Heliconia plants.

Since much of Izabal is swamp-like, you sink deep into the vegetation and water if you hike anywhere off the road (we had to hike through water to mid-chest height to reach the Cueva del Tigre (Jaguar)).

But if you come in the dry season, you can experience flowering Heliconia in many areas of the Municipio of Livingston.

Lots of Heliconia species in Guatemala (including Municipio de Livingston)

So far we have found three species of Heliconia and one close relative of another genus in the Municipio de Livingston, Izabal, Guatemala, Central America. We found this close relative, Calathea crotalifera, so far in one location in the Municipio of Livingston.

Otzoy et al 2003:1 state there are 11 species native to Guatemala. Our estimate (of our team at FLAAR Mesoamerica, by our in-house Heliconia plant scout Senaida Ba, is that there are potentially several more species. Below is a quick list by Wikipedia (our list is a bit complicated so we will present all our document in a future book on Heliconia of Guatemala as soon as a considerate individual or Foundation provides funding to our institute (FLAAR Mesoamerica in Guatemala or FLAAR in USA).

In red color we list the species listed by Otzoy et al. (page 10).

Genus species Location
(provided by Wikipedia)
Muni Livingston
Heliconia adflexa S Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras -
Heliconia aurantiaca S Mexico, Central America Livingston
Heliconia bourgaeana S Mexico, Central America -
Heliconia collinsiana S Mexico, Central America -
Heliconia crassa Guatemala -
Heliconia hirsuta Central + South America, Trinidad -
Heliconia latispatha from S Mexico to Peru Livingston
Heliconia librata S Mexico, Central America -
Heliconia marthiasiae S Mexico, Central America -
Heliconia spissa S Mexico, Central America -
Heliconia tortuosa S Mexico, Central America -
Heliconia wagneriana Central America, N South America, Trinidad Livingston

There are additional Heliconia species that are listed for “Central + South America” but this more likely means the parts of Central America which are nearest to South America, so Costa Rica, etc. (in other words, not north to Guatemala). One exception is Heliconia wagneriana. We believe this is the name of a Heliconia we found wild in the Municipio of Livingston.

We need to further check on whether any of these in the list below may also be in Guatemala:

Heliconia mariae NW South America, Central America -
Heliconia metallica N South America, Central America -
Heliconia schiedeana Mexico -

Otzoy et al. add

  • Heliconia bihai
  • Heliconia mariae
  • Heliconia psittacorum
  • Heliconia rostrata
  • Heliconia subulata

This is a polite way to say that the Wikipedia list is not complete.

Every botanical book, every web site, every resource has different lists of Heliconia for Guatemala. So our goal is to physically find the actual physical plants, and identify genus species and common names. And list where we found each species.

Another issue is when one author uses an older name that Kew Gardens says today is just a synonym. So some Heliconia may be in several lists but under different names.

As soon as funding is available from private donations to FLAAR (USA) or FLAAR Mesoamerica (Guatemala) we will be able to finish our list of all Heliconia species (and all their relatives) which can be found in all of Guatemala, Central America. The departamento of Izabal and of Alta Verapaz have the most diversity of species, but we found Heliconia in Parque Nacional Yaxha, Nakum, Naranjo (Peten) and other parts of Guatemala. The difference is that we found, literally, over a million Heliconia plants along a single road from Livingston to Plan Grande Tatin.

Botanical name for Heliconia wagneriana

Heliconia wagneriana Peterson is the official accepted botanical name. The plant family is Heliconiaceae. Five synonyms are listed on The Plant list web site:

Local names vary: often it is named arco iris or Rainbow Heliconia. In English can also be called Easter heliconia.

Introductory Suggested Books and Articles on Heliconia of Guatemala

Our bibliography of suggested reading on Heliconia plants of Guatemala, Central America,
is on our web site

The information for Otzoy et al. is:

Ing. Agr. M.A. Mynor Raúl Otzoy Rosales Coordinador de IIDESO
Ing. Agr. Erick Alexander España Miranda Coordinador del proyecto
Ing. Agr. Jorge Rubén Sosof Vásquez Investigador
T.P.A. David Estuardo Moreno Camey Auxiliar de investigación I

This is a free download on the Internet.


First posted March 17, 2020.

PNYNN and Livingston reports

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