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Nomenclature Review of Species of Heliconia Genus

Heliconias are a group of plants whose cultivation for cut flowers has grown in importance. Different cultural requirements for different species make it essential that growers know what species they are buying and growing. Incorrect naming for the cultivated species poses a problem for growers who do not know what species they are buying and growing. The situation is also confusing when local and foreign names are used or translated into another language. That has also caused some trouble in trade relations with regard to the sale of plants, as rural growers, based on incorrect naming, and/or popular names for the varieties, frequently buy a certain species adapted to their region, but receive a different one, which may not give a satisfactory yield, thus leading to loss. Correct identification of the species is only a start as there are also interspecific hybrids that intergrade in characteristics, making assignment of a species epithet difficult. Our nomenclatural study was based mainly on information obtained from published articles on heliconias in national and international periodicals, as well as from books, published between 1900 and 2002, which described heliconia species. Analysis of the collected data allowed us to establish 176 species of heliconias occurring in the neotropical region, and 6 species on the Pacific Islands, totaling 182 known species. Nearly half of the species described are found in Colombia (94), and in decreasing order, as follows: Ecuador (60) Panama (56), Costa Rica (47), Brazil (37), Peru (32), Venezuela (26), Nicaragua (22), Guatemala (16), Bolivia (15), Honduras and México (14) and Suriname (13). Ninety-four of these 182 species are endemic to certain regions, what indicates the great fragility of the genus in preserving germplasm. On account of the high level of endemism, it is of pressing importance to define a national/ international program aimed at the collection and conservation of species germplasm under that genus.

ISSN: 2447-536X

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