Strelitzia is a genus of five species of perennial plants, indigenous to South Africa. The name Strelitzia was given to honour Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III of England. She was from the house of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. A common name of the genus is bird of paradise flower, because of a supposed resemblance of its flowers to the bird of paradise. In South Africa it is commonly known as a crane flower. The flowers are ideal for cut flowers and last up to 20 days in a vase. They can all be grown in large pots or tubs but will require regular feeding and irrigation. There are three tree-like Strelitzia species Strelitzia alba, Strelitzia caudata and Strelitzia nicolai. The other two species Strelitzia reginae and Strelitzia juncea are shrub-like tufted clump-forming species. In Kirstenbosch released a yellow variety of Strelitzia reginae which in was named Mandela’s Gold in honour of Nelson Mandela. Strelitzias are easy plants to grow in the garden. Plants do well in full sun to semi-shade, love a rich loamy soil and plenty of water throughout the year. They respond well to regular feeding with a slow release fertilizer and compost. They are however very tolerant plants and will thrive in most soils and can survive with very little water once established. The plants are also wind resistant and grow well in coastal gardens. Strelitzias are sensitive to cold and would need a sheltered position in areas with frost as the flowers and leaves are often damaged by frost. In very cold climates it is better to grow them in pots that could be moved indoors when freezing temperatures are expected. Strelitzia nicolai, commonly known as the Natal wild banana, White Bird of Paradise, Wild Banana or Giant Bird of Paradise, are evergreen banana-like plants, related to the well-known crane flower, Strelitzia reginae, that have erect woody, palm like stems reaching a height of 12 m and the clumps formed can spread as far as 4 m. The 1.8 m long leaves are grey-green and arranged like a fan at the top of the stems. Although not related to the true bananas or the wild banana Ensete ventricosum, the leaves and growth habit of Strelitzia nicolai are somewhat similar and probably account for the common name. The inflorescence is composed of a dark blue bract, white sepals and a bluish-purple "tongue". The entire flower can be as much as 18 cm high by 45 cm long and is typically held just above the point where the leaf fan emerges from the stem.


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Strelitzia nicolai Seeds   Giant Bird of Paradise
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