Sunday, January 31, 2010

Strelitzia — the Bird of Paradise or Crane Flower

Although my personal tastes in gardening lean towards cottage gardens, here on the Highveld (South Africa’s central plateau that is mainly a grassland biome), indigenous South African plants are my preference — because they tolerate the rugged environment, are more drought and frost tolerant, appeal to local birds and butterflies and lend themselves to appropriate landscaping for this environment.

The fascinating blooms of Strelitzia reginae are sold as cut flowers by the million. In Los Angeles strelitzias are so extensively planted that it is regarded as the emblem of the city. Strelitzia reginae is, however, indigenous to South Africa where it grows wild in the Eastern Cape. Here the strelitzias grow in rocky grassland and between other shrubs along the riverbanks and in clearings in the coastal bush.

Strelitzia reginae is a bold structural plant, which forms large evergreen clumps of stiff leaves growing up from the base. The grey-green banana-like leaves grow about 1,5 m in height and the flowers stand above the foliage at the tips of long stalks. Mature plants are very floriferous with flowers in autumn, winter and spring. These produce abundant nectar that lures insects, and birds which (in South Africa) include White-bellied, Black, Grey, Collared, Malachite and Marico Sunbirds and the Cape White‑eye.

Popular with landscapers, this architecturally pleasing plant is ideal for modern landscapes, creating an impact not only in home gardens, but also in office complex gardens, schools and large parks. This Strelitzia can form an impressive groundcover when mass‑planted in very light partial shade.

For detailed information about growing Strelizia reginae and the other Strelizia species visit I am sure you will find the content very useful.

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