Caulescent, rhizomatous herb, to 6 m tall; stem round, to 15 cm thick, tapering upward. Leaves spiraled, the stout successive sheaths forming the trunk; blades broadly elliptic, to more than 2 m long, both the petiole and the lower surface of blade white-waxy. Inflorescence a terminal spike, emerging from leaf sheaths, drooping to pendent; flowers unisexual, in flat clusters beneath broad, spirally arranged, purplish bracts, the distal clusters on the rachis functionally staminate, the proximal clusters functionally pistillate; flowers of both sexes with the calyx tubular, the corolla of 1 petal; staminate flowers and bracts deciduous; stamens usually 6-1 a staminodium. Fruit a fleshy elongate berry. Cultivated in the Laboratory Clearing. Juvenile plants are similar to Heliconia, but the species may be distinguished by its round stem and petioles, which are continuous with the margin of the blade.