* To inform the public about the diversity of heliconias in the Panama Canal.
* To understand the importance of these exotic plants not only to us,humans, but also to the vast ecosystem it is surrounded by.
* To appreciate the beauty of these exotic plants that we, Panama, are fortunate to possessed.
Heliconias areprobably the most charming and attractive flowering plants in our vast natural ecosystem. This might be because of their fast-growing rate, their definite presence in most tropical habitats, or the beautyand the exuberance of their inflorescence. They belong to the order Zingiberales and to the class Liliopsida. They range from south Mexico to north Argentina. They preferred humid and rainy places. InPanama, they can be found in the tropical moist forest of the Canal Zone, Colón, Chiriquí, Panamá, and Darién. In the Canal Zone, they can be constantly seen in Barro Colorado along clearings, in openareas along trails, and along the shore. Their inflorescence, as mentioned earlier, is the most attractive part of these exotic plants, yet it also possesses the most important characteristics to tellthe species apart. Their fruits mature from July to October and can be present with the flowers on the same inflorescence. They are important because they are used for food, health, and evenspiritual purposes. They also play an important role in the life cycles of frogs, snakes, and various pollinators. Heliconias are the first to “participate” in the natural regeneration process of vegetation.They also participate in the restoration of degraded land. However, the deterioration in natural resources has subjected these plants to a high risk.
It is important to consideratethe effects of the disturbance of natural ecosystems in the Panama Canal. Seeing that their natural habitat consist of humid and rainy places, any minor changes to humidity or water supply will...