Heliconia Paradise, aurantiaca, bourgaeana & latispatha – Livingston Project
While going from the town of Livingston along the several kilometers to Cueva del Tigre, Nicholas Hellmuth saw more masses of Heliconia plants than he had seen in the previous decade. Yes, there are literally “fields full of wild native Heliconia” in many moist areas of Guatemala (especially in Alta Verapaz and Izabal).
The first third of the route from Livingston to the west was cattle pastures (without much Heliconia). The rest was often SOLID Heliconia, especially on hillsides and flat wetlands. Even in the milpa areas, you could see Heliconia everywhere.
He estimated that 80% or more was one species: Heliconia latispatha. There were also occasional small clusters of Heliconia champneiana. These were very noticeable due to totally different size, thicker shape, and splotchy color of bracts. The modern botanical name for this is Heliconia bourgaeana. There were also lots of attractive orange-yellow flowered Heliconia aurantiaca scattered around.
María Alejandra Gutiérrez