Skip to Content

5 Bird of Paradise Varieties (With Distinguishing Features)

Francis Masson decided that the flower he discovered was beautiful enough for a queen to admire.

He was a Scottish botanist who traveled to Africa searching for new plants in the 18th century. 

Francis discovered Strelitzia in the southern part of the continent.

Also known as Bird of Paradise because the flowers resemble a flamingo’s head with a crest and are incredibly vibrant in color.

The botanist compared its beauty to the Queen consort of Great Britain, Mecklenburg-Strelitz. 

She was George III’s wife. She was known for her graceful and harmonious appearance and love of opulent and colorful clothing.

An Overview of Bird of Paradise Plant

It starts to flower at the age of four to five years old. However, it will continue to bloom for several more years after that. 

Nectar birds carry out the pollination process naturally. When a flower blooms, it releases much nectar, which birds feed on, transferring pollen from one flower to the next.

In the wild, the plant prefers large, open areas on high ground, where it can grow into an enormous specimen. 

The Strelitzia can be pretty impressive in its natural habitat at 33 feet (10m) tall and 16 feet (5m) wide. 

However, the flower’s growth is limited to the ceiling in the home and rarely exceeds the height of 6.5-8 feet (2-2.5 m). 

Leaf, Stem, and Flowers

Bird of Paradise Flower

It’s a herbaceous, evergreen perennial with no trunk; the roots grow and aren’t connected. 

The root system is a rod-like structure with a few offshoots. Strelitzia roots go down to the bottom of the soil, so you need to choose pots that aren’t too wide but high enough to plant them in. 

Oval-shaped leaves range in width from 4-31 inches (10 to 80 cm) and height from 11-78 inches (30 to 200 cm).

Petioles are 19-35 inches (50 to 90 cm) long, sturdy, and resilient. 

They resemble banana leaves but are much denser. Also, they have longer petioles that hold them in place. 

There is a glossy, leathery feel to the plates. The color is dark green with a bluish hue. 

It is oval in shape and is elongated, with a slightly pointed edge and asymmetrical slits along the edges. The central and lateral veins can be seen clearly.

Orange and blue-purple petal flowers resembling a bird’s crest can be 4-7.8 inches (10-20 cm) in diameter. 

Each plant can have six or more peduncles, averaging 5-7 flowers per peduncle. 

As a result, if you take good care of your plant, you can expect it to flower for six months or even twice a year.

In the wild, the plant is pollinated by giant insects and birds, but you must do it at home by hand with a soft brush. Flowers fade, and seed bolls with oval fruits replace them. 

The capsule produces eight seeds at a time. It takes between five and six months for the fruit to fully mature.

To get good seeds for growing, you have to wait until the capsule opens.

Facts You Should Know

You can find it all over the world. For example, in Los Angeles, the city’s coat of arms was suggested to include the image of the flower because of its popularity. 

Birds of paradise look great when they are in flower arrangements. It is possible to keep fresh flowers in a bouquet for up to four weeks with proper care. 

Also, flowers in a bouquet remain standing longer than they would on their own stem.

Strelitzia leaves and stems sap is toxic, so keep children and animals away from it. On the other hand, Strelitzia is used in herbal medicine and in beauty products. 

Strelitzia remedies reduce inflammation and itching, and cosmetics containing strelitzia extract remove dark circles under the eyes and improve skin color and condition.

Types of Bird of Paradise Plant

The genus has five known species, all of which scientists have named and described. 

You’ll find any of these in countries with mild or warm winters and in hot Africa. For example, in Central America, Argentina, and the Mediterranean coast.

[1] Royal Strelitzia (Strelitzia reginae)

Royal Strelitzia (Strelitzia reginae)
Strelitzia reginae

The most well-known and likely most common species of Strelitzia. It is most commonly grown indoors. The flower’s diameter is between 4-6 inches (10 and 15 cm).

The leaves are oval and glossy, measuring about 16 inches (40 cm) long and 12 inches (30 cm) wide, with a rigid stem that can grow to be 24 inches (60 cm) long.

The evergreen leaves appear one by one, usually cross-shaped, resulting in a fan-shaped crown. 

The flowers are predominantly orange with a hint of blue. Petal colors include yellow, purple, blue, and orange, with three red-brown tepals forming a rook shape.

The most common and well-known variety has orange flower heads, but a newer variety produces a yellow flower.

Yellow Bird of Paradise flowers has been around in the wild for a long time.

However, seeds from these forms rarely germinate naturally because most of them are pollinated by different varieties. It takes two yellow parents to produce a yellow variety.

Yellow Bird of Paradise
Yellow Bird of Paradise

During the 1970s, John Winter pollinated a stock of yellow Strelitzia (only seven) at the National Botanical Garden in Kirstenbosch, Africa. 

It took them twenty years of careful selection and hand pollination to get enough of their first batch sold commercially in 1994.

Until 1996, it was sold under the name “Kirstenbosch Gold,” but in honor of Nelson Mandela, the name was changed to “Mandela’s Gold.” This is the only variety of this species.

The grayish-green banana-like leaves of Mandela’s Gold can reach 5 feet (1.5 m). The large flowers have three transparent yellow sepals and three dark purple petals.

[2] Strelitzia nicolai

Strelitzia nicolai
Strelitzia nicolai

Among all of the Strelitzias, this one is the most majestic.

In honor of Russian Tsar Nicholas-I, Edward Regel (1815-1892), director of the Imperial Botanical Garden in St. Petersburg, gave this blue-and-white flower his name.

This plant is also known as woody Strelitzia because it can grow up to 26-33 feet (8-10 m) tall and has a stem up to 13 feet (4m) wide.

They look like palm tree trunks because of the scars left by the fallen leaves. The wind flutters the leaves, making them resemble the feathers of a massive bird.

The flowers are magnificent, with very large inflorescences typical of the Strelitzia.

The petals of Strelitzia Nicholas are blue and white sepals on a purplish-blue base, and they can grow to be up to 20 inches (50 cm) long.

The coloration is noticeably different. A reddish border surrounds a blue-green bract, bears flowers with blue-white petals. Flowers only appear after eight years of growth.

The plant would be mistaken for a massive banana tree without flowers. Therefore, it is known as “wild banana Natalia” by the local tribes.

The plant is also unique in that it is not toxic. The seeds of Strelitzia Nicolai are eaten in its native South Africa, and the stems are used to make ropes.

Strelitzia Nicolai grows quickly in natural conditions because of its strong roots and many branches.

It grows best along river and sea coasts, in climates where night and day temperatures are not too different, and tolerates drought well.

[3] Strelitzia White/ Strelitzia alba

 Strelitzia augusta Plant
Strelitzia augusta

Strelitzia White or Strelitzia Augusta is the rarest of the three large Strelitzia species in southern Africa, distinguished by their characteristics and color distribution.

It is an excellent choice for a medium to large garden.

Its lower part is woody, and its leaves are extended up to 3 feet (90cm) and are glossy.

The petals are white on a purple base, up to 6 inches (15 cm) long. Strelizia white blooms from May to July.

The bush is not branched, but it has a lot of stems and can grow up to 34 feet (10m) tall. Older stems are woody and have scarred leaves and suckers at the base. 

The top leaves are oblong, 6.5 feet (2 m) long, 1.3-2 feet (0.4-0.6 m) wide.

They are leathery, grow opposite each other, are green to grayish in color, and the leaf lamina tears with wind and age. 

A single boat-shaped flower will appear when it blooms in the fall and winter.

It is curved and dark blue, measuring 10-11inches (250-300 mm) long, 2.4-3 inches (60-80 mm) tall, and 1.8 inches (45 mm) thick.

The flower-bearing stem has a slender tip and is covered in mucilage secreted on both sides. The sepals are white and measure 160-180 mm in length by 30 to 35 mm wide. 

 Strelitzia augusta Flower
Strelitzia augusta Flower

They are pure white, with 35 mm lanceolate petals, a 0.5 inch (11 mm) wide lower boat-shaped petal on top, and a 1.5 inch (40-45 mm) lanceolate upper petal on top of the bottom. 

The filament is 1.2 inches (30 mm) long, and the anthers are between 2-2.2 inches (50 and 55 mm) in length. 

During the summer, the fruit separates from the tree’s apex. The aril is yellow, and the seeds are rounded and black to brown in color.

[4] Strelitzia caudata

Strelitzia caudata
Strelitzia caudata

It is a banana-like Strelitzia species found in southern Africa. It is an ideal location for medium to extensive gardens.

Strelitzia Caudata is a multi-stemmed, unbranched plant that can reach a height of about 20 feet (6m) and has a stem diameter of 4-6 inches (100 to 150 mm). 

The stems of older plants are woody, covered in leaf scars, and frequently have suckers growing out of the bottom. 

Leaf blades are 5-5.5 feet (1.5-1.7m) long and 31-33.5 inches (800-850 mm) wide, oblong with a pink petiole that measures 5-5.5 feet in length but is narrower at the base. 

Its leaves are leathery, opposite, green to grayish in color, and the leaf lamina is torn and torn by the wind as it ages.

A single purple inflorescence with a boat-shaped shape bears several flowers in the fall and winter.

It is burgundy-gray in color, 12 inches (300 mm) long, 2.5 inches (60-65 mm) high, and about 1.4 inches (35 mm) thick, and it is at right angles to the pedicel. 

The slender tip of the stem produces mucus that aids in the appearance of flowers. 

These flowers have linear-lanceolate upper abaxial pairs of sepals 6-8 inches (150-200 mm) long and 1.2 inches (30 mm) wide.

The upper abaxial pairs of sepals are white or pinkish-purple at the base.

The lower sepal is about the same length as the other two, boat-shaped with a sharp keel that extends roughly in the middle into a thin lobe or tail 0.6-1 inch (15-25 mm) long. 

Petals are light purple all over or near the base, about 5-6 inches (120-150 mm) long, with apical parts forming a sagittate shape (resembling an arrowhead).

Blunt basal lobes measure 2-2.4 inches (50-60mm) in length and 0.3 inches (7-8mm) in width. It measures 4 inches (100mm) long by 0.8 inches (20mm) in width. 

Its upper petal is an ovate shape, measuring 1-1.3 inches (25-35 mm) long and 0.5 inches (10-12.5 mm)` wide, including the tip (acute point). 

The filaments are 1-1.5 inches (30-40 mm) long, and the anthers are 2-3.5 inches (55-90 mm) wide. 

Including the stigma, the style measures 6-7 inches (160-175 mm). The ovary shape is irregularly triangular.

[5] Strelitzia juncea

 Strelitzia juncea
Strelitzia juncea

The species grows naturally in the eastern part of the African continent. The plant can withstand dry periods and sudden temperature drops, so it is not afraid of short-term problems.

Flowers resemble the buds of Strelitzia caudata in structure and appearance.

The leaves, on the other hand, are noticeably different. The leaf blades are narrow and elongated, forming a dense rosette up to 6.5 feet (2m) in diameter.

The plant is slow-growing and doesn’t flower for 3-4 years. However, if grown correctly, S. juncea is a flowering and long-living plant. 

Flowers resemble the most common S. reginae, despite the leaves is very different from each other. 

The inflorescence is made up of a scapular shape with an average of five flowers.

While S. Regina’s flower spot is held above the leaves, this species’ flower spot is lower.

Strelitzia reginae mzimvubuensis

This subspecies of the well-known Strelitzia reginae is a garden favorite and the world’s best-cut flower.

They are evergreen shrubs that can grow 5 feet (1.5 m) tall and 6.5feet (2 m) in diameter. The roots are fleshy and can grow up to .08 inches (20 mm) in diameter.

The leaves are a vibrant green (but have a slight grayish-blue bloom when grown in full sun). Arrange in two opposing rows, ascending to a height of 5 feet (1.5 m). 

Petioles up to .05 inch (12 mm) in diameter and 32 inches (800 mm) in length, green or with a grayish-blue patina Plants grown in full sun have broad ovate (egg-shaped) or almost lanceolate (ovate-lanceolate) leaf blades.

The inflorescence stem (approximately four are formed per season) is erect, challenging, and grows to 28 inches (700 mm). 

Colorful bracts cover its long ends, measuring between 6-7 inches (170-180 mm) and reaching a sharp point at the end of the denticle, which is horizontal or ascending. This boat-shaped denticle gives rise to three to six flowers.

Use In The Interior Decoration

Strelitzia’s exotic appearance can brighten any room. Even the most indifferent guests or visitors can be surprised by the large glossy leaves and original buds.

Tall “birds of paradise” look great in modern homes and match even the boldest designs.

Restrooms with verandas and loggias often have pots with unusual plants in them. They occupy the extra space and draw attention.

With the help of Strelitzia, you can make a green space right in your apartment. 

Large specimens look great on the floor, as do small planters on stands.