Heliconias are rhizomatous, medium to large tropical herbs that occur predominately in the New World Tropics (South America) but with some species occurring in the Old World Tropics (South Pacific).

They are from the order Zingiberales which also includes some of the more familiar Gingers, Cannas, Strelitzias and Bananas. The most spectacular species and cultivars originate from South and Central America and the Caribbean Islands. Other less spectacular species are found in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and some other South Pacific Islands.