have simple, alternate leaves that are often very large. The leaf veins are perpendicular to the midrib, and the petiole is channeled. The leaves tear easily; plants growing in the wild usually have leaves that are somewhat tattered. The leaf sheath around the stem is often partly open at the top. The inflorescence, borne at the end of the stalk, can be either pendant or upright. The bracts of upright-flowered Heliconia harbor unique communities of insects, snails, and microorganisms, much like the leaf axils of bromeliads, but the species compositions of the assemblages in Heliconia bracts and bromeliad leaf axils are very different . Common names for the genus include, toucan beak, wild plantain, or false bird-of-paradise. The last term refers to their close similarity to the bird-of-paradise flowers
Lobster-Claws is an erect, coarse, perennial plant, superficially resembling a banana, growing up to 2 metres or more tall. The plant forms a dense clump of stems (or more correctly pseudostems) from a rhizomatous rootstock. Each stem is comprised of tightly rolled leaf sheaths. The oblong leaves can be up to 2 - 3 metres long.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials. It is occasionally cultivated or protected, in rural and home gardens. The plant is often grown as an ornamental, valued for its beautiful, coloured foliage, it has flowers with overlapping, scarlet and yellow or greenish bracts; and yellow fruits.
The pseudostems and heated leaves are used medicinally. have been well known for antiophidic property. Ethnobotanically, rhizome of this plant have also been used to cure jaundice, intestinal pain and hypertension.