San Francisco Botanical GardenAbout San Francisco Botanical Garden
SFBG

In Bloom

Strelitzia reginae Strelitziaceae
 
Strelitzia reginae - Marc Johnson

Strelitzia reginae by Marc Johnson

 

The common name, bird of paradise, refers to the flower, which resembles the crested head of a tropical bird. Its orange and blue flowers look like a bird's brilliant plumage. This common name is used here in North America and in England, but in South Africa, where the plant is native, it is commonly known as crane flower. Bird of paradise is probably one of the most recognized cultivated plants in the world. It is abundantly-planted in Southern California and is actually the official floral emblem of the City of Los Angeles. The Strelitzia plant has a bold structure with clumps of stiff, grey-green, banana-like leaves growing up to four feet in height. The flowers reach another couple of feet above the foliage, perched on the tips of long stalks.

The flower structure and pollination biology of the bird of paradise are fascinating. The hard, beak-like sheath from which the flower emerges is called a spathe and is positioned perpendicular to the stem, giving it the appearance of a bird's head and beak atop a long narrow neck, similar to a crane. It conveniently makes a sturdy perch for supporting South African sunbirds, which pollinate the plant. The flowers, which emerge one at a time from the spathe, consist of three brilliant orange sepals and three bright blue petals. Two of the blue petals are joined together to form an arrow-like nectary. When the birds sit to have a drink of nectar, the petals open and cover their feet with pollen. When they visit the next flower the pollen is transferred from the bird's feet to that next flower.

Individual flowers last about one week. The spathe holds five to seven flowers, so the bird of paradise remains showy over a prolonged period. At the Garden it blooms during summer months. Plants do well in full sun to semi-shade and love a rich, loamy soil and plenty of water throughout the year. They can be very tolerant plants once established, however, and can survive with very little water. The plants are also wind resistant and grow well in coastal gardens. They prefer moderate temperatures of 55 to 65F at night. Being sensitive to cold, they need a sheltered position in areas with frost, as the flowers and leaves may be damaged. In warmer regions, where daytime temperatures rise above 70F outside, plants should be positioned in a semi-shaded location with good air circulation.

Strelitzia reginae is slow-growing and will not bloom until two to five years after germinating from seed. It flowers only when properly established, and division of the plant may affect flowering patterns. There is a yellow-flowered cultivar of this plant known as "Mandela's Gold". Instead of a bird's head of orange and blue feather-like petals, "Mandela's Gold" has flowers mimicking yellow and gold feathers.

IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS: Text by Mona Bourell. Photos by Marc Johnson, Mona Bourell, and Joanne Taylor.

Location

Strelitzia reginae can be found
South Africa Garden
(Bed 44B, 44D, 44E, 44F)
Visiting Info >>
Map (Bed Numbers) >>

Profile

Scientific Name Strelitzia reginae.
Common Names Bird of paradise, Crane flower.
Family Strelitziaceae.
Plant Type Perennial evergreen, clump-forming, 4-6 feet high and 4-5 feet wide.
Environment Plant in full sun or part shade and water occasionally. This plant is hardy for short-duration freezes down to 24 F, but flowers and buds may be damaged by freezing temperatures. Divide infrequently as large, crowded clumps bloom best. Does well in containers.
Bloom May-July.
Uses Widely used in landscaping as an architectural plant and focal point. Provides long-lasting cut flowers.
More info Native to South Africa from the Eastern Cape Province to KwaZulu-Natal.

Stelitzia is named in honor of Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, from the house of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The species name reginae is Latin and means 'of the queen'.
 
 
  • Archive 2016
  • 2015
  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • 2010
  • 2009
  • 2008
  • 2007
  • 2006
Fitzroya cupressoides

Fitzroya cupressoides

January

Polyspora longicarpa

Polyspora longicarpa

February

Polyspora longicarpa

Magnolia laevifolia

March

Fitzroya cupressoides

Cantua buxifolia

April

Fitzroya cupressoides

Papaver rhoeas

May

Magnolia campbellii

Magnolia campbellii

January

Magnolia doltsopa

Magnolia doltsopa

February

Magnolia liliiflora

Magnolia liliiflora

March

Vireya Rhododendrons

Vireya Rhododendrons

April

Leucospermum spp.

Leucospermum spp.

May

Senna multiglandulosa

Senna multiglandulosa

June

Tagetes lemmonii

Tagetes lemmonii

July

Eucomis spp.

Eucomis spp.

August

Cuphea spp.

Cuphea spp.

September

Phyllocladus trichomanoides

Phyllocladus trichomanoides

October

Phyllocladus trichomanoides

Saurauia Madrensis

November

Pinus pseudostrobus

Pinus pseudostrobus

December

Magnolia dawsoniana

Magnolia dawsoniana

January

Magnolia campbellii 'Strybing White'

Magnolia campbellii 'Strybing White'

February

Magnolia laevifolia'Strybing Compact'

Magnolia laevifolia 'Strybing Compact'

March

Aristolochia californica

Aristolochia californica

April

Chlorogalum pomeridianum

Chlorogalum pomeridianum

May

Arbutus menziesii

Arbutus menziesii

June

Romneya coulteri

Romneya coulteri

July

Cistus sp.

Cistus sp.

August

Rosmarinus sp.

Rosmarinus sp.

September

Dahlia spp.

Dahlia spp.

October

Salvia cacaliifolia

Salvia cacaliifolia

November

Salvia cacaliifolia

Salvia microphylla
'Hot Lips'

November

Magnolia campbellii

Magnolia campbellii

January

Magnolia denudata

Magnolia denudata

February

Magnolia x veitchii

Magnolia x veitchii

March

Iris douglasiana

Iris douglasiana

April

Aesculus californica

Aesculus californica

May

Vaccinium ovatum

Vaccinium ovatum

June

Sambucus racemosa

Sambucus racemosa

July

Sequoia sempervirens

Sequoia sempervirens

August

Asarum caudatum

Asarum caudatum

September

Deppea splendens

Deppea splendens

October

Montanoa spp.

Montanoa spp.

November

Bidens sp.

Bidens sp.

December

Acer palmatum 'Sango kaku'

Acer palmatum 'Sango kaku'

January

Magnolia campbellii 'Darjeeling'

Magnolia campbellii 'Darjeeling'

February

Bomaria spp.

Bomarea spp.

March

Rhododendron occidentale

Rhododendron occidentale

April

Polystichum munitum

Polystichum munitum

May

x Chiranthofremontia lenzii

x Chiranthofremontia lenzii

June

Salvia leucantha

Salvia leucantha

July

Hydrangea seemannii

Hydrangea seemannii

August

Wollemia nobilis

Wollemia nobilis

September

Cyathea cooperi

Cyathea cooperi

October

Pinus radiata

Pinus radiata

November

Correa spp.

Correa spp.

December

Garrya elliptica

Garrya elliptica

January

Magnolia x soulangeana

Magnolia x soulangeana

February

Senecio glastifolius

Senecio glastifolius

March

Ribes spp.

Ribes spp.

April

Oxalis oregana

Oxalis oregana

May

Calandrinia grandiflora

Calandrinia grandiflora

June

Taxus baccata

Taxus baccata

July

Romneya coulteri

Romneya coulteri

August

Passiflora parritae

Passiflora parritae

September

Malvaviscus arboreus

Malvaviscus arboreus

October

Monterey Cypress

Monterey Cypress

November

Aloe arborescens

Aloe arborescens

December

Aloe plicatilis

Aloe plicatilis

January

Banksia seminuda

Banksia seminuda

February

Zantedeschia elliottiana

Zantedeschia aethiopica

March

Magnolia laevifolia

Magnolia laevifolia

April

Araucaria heterophylla

Araucaria heterophylla

May

Toxicodendron diversilobum

Toxicodendron diversilobum

June

Clarkia sp.

Clarkia sp.

July

Agapanthus

Agapanthus

August

Brugmansia

Brugmansia

September

Cedrus spp.

Cedrus spp.

October

Protea repens

Protea repens

November

Camellia sinensis

Camellia sinensis

December

Thujopsis dolabrata

Thujopsis dolabrata

January

Gordonia longicarpa

Gordonia longicarpa

February

Rojasianthe superba

Rojasianthe superba

March

Echium spp.

Echium spp.

April

Iris douglasiana

Iris douglasiana

May

Digitalis purpurea

Digitalis purpurea

June

Felicia amelloides

Felicia amelloides

July

Ceroxylon quindiuense

Ceroxylon quindiuense

August

Amaryllis belladonna

Amaryllis belladonna

September

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba

October

Acer morrisonense

Acer morrisonense

November

Ilex aquifolium

Ilex aquifolium

December

Picea sitchensis

Picea sitchensis

January

Telanthophora grandifolia

Telanthophora grandifolia

February

Aeonium arboreum 'Schwartzkopf'

Aeonium arboreum 'Schwartzkopf'

March

Leptospermum Spp.

Leptospermum

April

Salvia gesneraeflora

Salvia gesneraeflora

May

Lavandula spp.

Lavandula spp.

June

Pelargonium

Pelargonium

July

Fuchsia paniculata

Fuchsia paniculata

August

Luma apiculata

Luma apiculata

September

Luculia

Luculia

October

Arbutus unedo

Arbutus unedo

November

Cycads

Cycad

December

Restionaceae

Restionaceae

January

Hellebores

Hellebores

February

Ceanothus

Ceanothus

March

Rhododendron

Rhododendron

April

Psoralea pinnata

Psoralea pinnata

May

Fremontodendron californicum

Fremontodendron californicum

June

Leucadendron argenteum

Leucadendron argenteum

July

Crocosmia

Crocosmia

August

Gunnera tinctoria

Gunnera tinctoria

September

Pellaea rotundifolia

Pellaea rotundifolia

October

Fuchsia boliviana

Fuchsia boliviana

November

Erica canaliculata

Erica canaliculata

December

Magnolia campbelli

Magnolia campbelli

January

Magnolia denudata

Magnolia denudata

February

Camellia

Camellia

March

Geranium maderense

Geranium maderense

April

Acmena smithii

Acmena smithii

May

Eschscholzia californica

Eschscholzia californica

June

Dendromecon harfordii

Dendromecon harfordii

July

Romneya coulteri

Romneya coulteri

August

Eupatorium purpureum

Eupatorium purpureum

September

Epilobium canum sp.

Epilobium canum sp.

October

Grevillea spp.

Grevillea spp.

November

Drimys winteri

Drimys winteri

December

SFBGS and San Francisco Recreation and Park Department San Francisco Botanical Garden's beauty and value as a major cultural resource are the result of a successful public/private partnership between San Francisco Botanical Garden Society and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.

ADMISSION  FREE for Members, SF Residents (with proof of residency) & School Groups | $8 Non-residents | Discounts for Seniors, Families & Children

LOCATED In Golden Gate Park, with entrances at the corner of Ninth Ave. at Lincoln Way (Main Gate) & at MLK Jr. Drive off the Music Concourse (Friend/North Gate) | Phone: (415) 661-1316 | Mail: 1199 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122-2370

© Copyright San Francisco Botanical Garden. All Rights Reserved.