Going to the tropics….

Winter finally arrived in the Northeast, so I left town….temporarily anyway.  I traveled to Costa Rica, the epitome of tropical rainforests.  I had full expectations of seeing amazing things in the rainforest including monkeys, reptiles, birds and lush, tangled foliage.  Costa Rica did not disappoint.  I saw all those things many times over.  What I didn’t anticipate was the plethora of tropical flowering plants that clearly flourish in this consistently moist environment. 

In case you are also in need of an escape from winter, enjoy this mini, tropical getaway.  While these plants clearly aren’t hardy in our zone, some of them would make pretty houseplants!  I prefer the method of traveling someplace warm during the winter months to enjoy seeing them in person. 
One of the most popular plants in Costa Rica is the Heliconia.  Often grown for the flower industry, these flowers are amazingly colorful and architectural.  By looking at the images, you will understand why the common names for Heliconia include lobster claw and false bird of paradise.
The amazing Heliconia

False Bird of Paradise

Lobster claw Heliconia
Etlingera elatior, also known as ginger flower or porcelain rose, is another standout in the Costa Rican landscape.  While edible, I can’t imagine eating this flower when it’s so much more fun to admire.
A porcelain rose for sure
I would put red sealing wax palm (Cyrtostachys renda) in the ‘smart’ plant category.  Intolerant of temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit  (isn’t that smart?), it’s coveted for arresting bright red leaf stalks.  This ‘lipstick palm’ certainly contrasted beautifully against the deep blue of the pool.   
Lipstick Palm

The peach-colored floral bells of Angel’s trumpets (Brugmansia) swayed gracefully in the breeze and looked so elegant.  Apparently they smelled liked rotten fruit though, which while not attractive to humans, was very attractive to their pollinator – the bat! 

Angel Trumpets
I hope you have enjoyed this little escape from winter’s fury. When it’s cold outside, the world of tropical plants provides a perfect destination!  Don’t you agree?


























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