Heliconia, Parrot Flower by rpq16580


									University of California, Davis                                    Postharvest Technology Research & Information Center

Produce Facts

Heliconia, Parrot Flower
Recommendations for Maintaining Postharvest Quality

                                                    Michael S. Reid
                         Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis, CA 95616

Description                   Heliconia humilis, Heliconia psittacorum The varied and fantastic forms and rich colors of
                              the different species of Heliconia make them an important florist item, particularly prized for
                              large and signature arrangements. Heliconia is named after Mount Helicon, the seat of the
                              Muses, the nine goddesses of the arts and sciences in Greek mythology. Like their god
                              Apollo, the Muses supposedly remained young and beautiful forever like the long-lasting and
                              elegant flowers of Heliconia. Lobster claw and Crab's claw are additional common names for
                              flowers in this genus.

Quality Indices               Heliconia are normally harvested fully mature – the flowers will not open past the stage at
                              which they are harvested. While flowers last longer if the bracts are less open compared to
                              more open, they generally do not open further after harvest and that may reduce their visual
                              appeal. Therefore, the openness of the flower at purchase often is the most it ever will open.
                              Consumer life varies greatly among species and cultivars, thus, learn species and cultivar

Grading and Bunching          Quality flowers of Heliconia are fully mature, free of defects (damage or discoloration) on
                              the flowers, and have good quality foliage (when present). Both the smaller, hanging species
                              and the larger, more upright species are packed individually by stem.

Ethylene Sensitivity          There is no evidence of any deleterious effects of ethylene exposure on the vase life of Heli-

Pretreatments                 No pretreatments have proved to be beneficial for Heliconias. Some species may benefit
                              from the flowers being dipped in an antitranspirant, such as those sold in garden centers for
                              use on woody plants. However, no antitranspirant product is presently sold in the floral in-
                              dustry for this use.

Storage Conditions            Heliconias are native to the tropical Americas, and are therefore very sensitive to chilling
                              injury. They should never be held at temperatures below 10-12.5ºC. Flowers may be stored
                              in moist shredded newsprint, or in water at 12.5ºC.

Packing                       Heliconias are normally packed in horizontal fiberboard box

Special Considerations        Heliconias most often die early due to poor water uptake. They can last for up to two weeks
                              in plain tap water if the water is free of microorganisms. Larger diameter and longer
                              stemmed specimens last longer. Since insects sometimes make the trip from grower to re-
                              tailer, make sure flowers are inspected and any insects removed.

Published October 2004                                                                                       Heliconia

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