Bird of Paradise Varieties, Types, Colors & Species

The common name for a Strelitzia is Bird of paradise. The Bird of paradise gets its common name from its appearance.

The flower consists of 3 bright petals on top, and 3 petals below, which all fuse together, forming a single bud. As the flower begins to bloom, the petals spread out, causing the plant to resemble a bird in flight. 

The Strelitzia was named this by Sir Joseph Banks, who was the director of the botanical gardens. Queen Charlotte, Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was said to be a plant enthusiast herself and the plant was named in her honor. 

Strelitzia Species

Strelitzia reginae 

Bird of paradise, Crane flower, Kraanvoelblom, Isigude 

The most commonly known Strelitzia is the Strelitzia reginae. The evergreen leaves resemble large, stiff paddles, while the bright orange and blues stick out at the top of long stalks.

The flowers resemble birds in flight when open, which is how the plant got its common name. 

It can grow up to 1.8m (6ft) high if provided with the correct conditions. And is often referred to as a crane flower, Kraanvoëlblom, and Isigude in its native South Africa

Mandela’s gold

A yellow variant of the Strelitzia reginae exists but is much rarer. ‘Mandela’s Gold’ was named in honor of Nelson Mandela. Native to South Africa, Mandela’s Gold closely resembles the popular reginae, but is slightly smaller in size. Instead of orange and blue petals, it has yellow and blue petals. It grows up to 1.2m (4ft) when given the correct care. 

Growing Mandela’s Gold from seed is particularly tricky, however.

It exists spontaneously and is recessive of the popular orange reginae.

It took 20 years of dedication to hand pollination to be able to collect seeds that only produced yellow flowers instead of the common orange type. 

Mandela’s Gold is not found naturally at all in the Western Cape but grows most abundantly in the Eastern Cape.

Strelitzia nicolai

Wild Banana, Natal Wildepiesang, Igceba, Ikhamanga 

This species of Strelitzia is known for its large, shiny leaves and less for its flowers.

The Nicolai is a fast-growing species, and can grow up to 12m tall, and spread out as far as 4m. It produces big, glossy leaves. 

The flowers are less impressive and are dull black and white. 

The Strelitzia nicolai is seen along the coast, beginning in East London and extending into Mozambique.

It is sometimes called the Wild Banana due to its resemblance to a banana tree when it boasts split leaves. It is also called the Natal Wildepiesang, Igceba, and Ikhamanga locally.

Strelitzia caudata

Transvaal wild banana, Wildepiesang, isigude sase

The Strelitzia caudata closely resembles the Strelitzia alba. The petals of the caudata however, are a light blue color.

The caudata is found in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in South Africa, as well as bordering countries Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

It is sometimes referred to as the Transvaal wild banana, Wildepiesang and Isigude sase.

Strelitzia alba 

White-flowered Wild Banana tree, Kaap Witwildepiesang, Isigude esimbalimhlophe

The Strelitzia alba is also rare and found very sparsely around the Garden Route and within the province of the Western Cape. The alba also has white flowers, with large gray to greenish leaves.

It is often found near rivers; the gray-green unbranched plant can grow as tall as 10m.

Strelitzia alba is sometimes called the White-flowered banana thanks to its white flower and leaves resembling that of a banana tree. It is also referred to as a Kaap Witwildepiesang or Isigude esimbalimhlophe.

Strelitzia juncea 

Rush leafed Strelitzia

The Strelitzia juncea is a much rare variety of Strelitzia, making it more sought after. While the flowers, which appear during the warmer months, look the same as on the Strelitzia reginae, the leaves are a bit different.

The leaves of the Strelitzia juncea are very narrow, appearing upright and cylindrical. This plant is sometimes referred to as the rush-leafed Strelitzia due to its shape resembling rushes.

The Bird of paradise is pollinated by sunbirds in their native South Africa. Birds will perch on & drink from the spathe.

The weight resulting from the bird standing on it causes it to open and release the pollen onto the bird’s feet, which is then deposited on the next spathe it visits.

In areas that don’t have sunbirds to assist with pollination, plants will generally need hand pollination.

Artificial Bird of Paradise – Real vs Fake Plant?

Surrounding yourself with plants has been shown to improve mental health by reducing anxiety and stress. Plants can create a soothing and relaxing environment that increases productivity.

Benefits of Real plants

They also help to clean air, while adding some humidity. This is great if you suffer from dry skin, or during the winter months when the air lacks moisture.

Benefits of Fake plants 

Fake plants have benefits too. Got no green thumb, or is your house filled with curious critters? An artificial plant might work best for you then. They have the added benefit of needing zero care, except an occasional dusting.

You also won’t have to deal with the concern that so many Bird of paradise lovers have: running out of space.