Monday, October 15, 2012

'Vanuatu Colours of Bloom'

On December 7, 2011, Vanuatu Post launched the 'Vanuatu Colours of Bloom' stamp issue which portrays the vibrant flowers found all over Vanuatu. These are typically characterized by having green flower clusters. It is the vibrancy of the splendid blooms which are found all over Vanuatu and their colours stand out, both in the Port Vila market and in other markets and gardens throughout the islands.  Vanuatu Post has chosen Strelitzia reginae (Bird of Paradise) to join three Heliconias - Heliconia psittacorum, Heliconia rostrata and Heliconia caribaea var in this colourful stamp issue.

vanuatu flower 1
Heliconia psittacorum  or known as Parrot's  beak, False Bird-Of-Paradise is a perennial herb native to the Caribbean and northern South America. Heliconia psittacorum flowers are actually highly modified leaves and bracts growing up to no more than four feet tall.

The parrot's beaks are exotic, abundantly bloomers all year long. The flower, or inflorescence of the Heliconia stays almost constant, and may last from several days to several months.

Heliconias like places with a lot of water, rich soil, and sunlight. Heliconia psittacorum does not mind cool temperatures, but does best in warm, humid areas. It is often cultivated as a tropical ornamental plant.

vanuatu flower 2

Heliconia rostrata (Lobster claw, False-bird-of-paradise) is an herbaceous perennial native to the north western region of South America. The more conspicuous floral bracts are brilliant scarlet-red to pink and edged with yellow and green.The inconspicuous, yellow flowers emerge from claw-shaped bracts on magnificent, up to 3 feet long, pendent, zigzagged inflorescences.

The leaves are simple, alternate, long-petioled, and have green, lanceolate leaf blades that are easily shredded by the wind. The pseudostems (formed by the leaf sheaths) emerge from underground rhizomes.

vanuatu flower 3
Strelitzia reginae is a monocotyledonous flowering plant indigenous to South Africa.The plant grows to 2 m  tall, with large, strong leaves 25–70 cm  long and 10–30 cm  broad, produced on petioles up to 1 m  long. The leaves are evergreen and arranged in two ranks, making a fan-shaped crown.

The flowers stand above the foliage at the tips of long stalks. The hard, beak-like sheath from which the flower emerges is termed the spathe. This is placed perpendicular to the stem, which gives it the appearance of a bird's head and beak.

The flowers, which emerge one at a time from the spathe, consist of three brilliant orange sepals and three purplish-blue petals. Two of the blue petals are joined together to form an arrow-like nectary.

vanuatu flower 4

Heliconia caribea of the Heliconiaceae family is an erect herb typically growing taller than 1.5 m. It is native to South America.The flowers of this species are actually highly modified leaves and bracts in the shapes of a lobster claws and a deep, rich yellow color.

Heliconia caribea has two arcs of air canals in leaf axis, raphide sacs, five fertile stamens, lateral stamens of inner and outer whorls fertile and no perisperm. Height is 9 to15 in. Foliage is banana like with waxy white coating on stems and lower midrib.

All members of both families have been described as “bold, flashy, attention-seeking and commanding attention”. Blooms can take the form of stiff and upright lobster claws, or hanging spirals of colourful bracts. A vast range of flower forms and vibrant colours are the main reason why they form the centerpiece of so many tropical landscapes all around the world, especially Vanuatu.

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