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Strelitzia larger.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Zingiberales
Family: Strelitziaceae
Genus: Strelitzia
Type species
Strelitzia reginae

See text

S. reginae fruit capsules and seeds – MHNT

Strelitzia /strɛˈlɪtsiə/[3] is a genus of five species of perennial plants, native to South Africa. It belongs to the plant family Strelitziaceae.[4] The genus is named after Queen Charlotte of the United Kingdom, who was born a princess of the house of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. A common name of the genus is bird of paradise flower/plant, because of a resemblance of its flowers to birds-of-paradise. In South Africa, it is commonly known as a crane flower and is featured on the reverse of the 50-cent coin. It is the floral emblem of the City of Los Angeles; two of the species, S. nicolai and S. reginae, are frequently grown as houseplants.[5]


The species S. nicolai is the largest in the genus, reaching 10 m (33 ft) tall, with stately white and blue flowers;[6] the other species typically reach 2.0 to 3.5 m tall, except S. caudata, which is a tree of a typically smaller size than S. nicolai. The leaves are large, 30–200 cm long and 10–80 cm broad, similar to a banana leaf in appearance, but with a longer petiole, and arranged strictly in two ranks to form a fan-like crown of evergreen foliage. The flowers are produced in a horizontal inflorescence emerging from a stout spathe.

Biology and propagation[edit]

They are pollinated by sunbirds, which perch on and drink from the spathe. The weight of the bird when standing on the spathe opens it to release the pollen onto the bird's feet, which is then deposited on the next spathe it visits. Strelitzia species lack natural insect pollinators; in areas without sunbirds, plants in this genus generally need hand pollination to successfully set seed.[7]

Species and hybrids[edit]

Five species are recognised, although one—S. juncea—has been shown to be genetically nested within another, S. reginae. It is possibly a mutation that is in the process of speciating.[8]

Image Scientific name Common name Native distribution
Strelitzia alba 001.jpg Strelitzia alba (syn. S. augusta) White bird of paradise Garden Route along the southernmost coastal regions of the Eastern and Western Capes in South Africa
Fleur du Strelitzia Caudata . Elle est très ressemblante a celle du Strelitzia Nicolai ( Strelitzia blanc ).jpg Strelitzia caudata Mountain strelitzia Chimanimani Mountains of Zimbabwe south to Mozambique, the Northern Provinces of South Africa, and Eswatini
Strelizia nicolai.JPG Strelitzia nicolai White bird of paradise or giant bird of paradise; wild banana; blue-and-white strelitzia[6] Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe,and Eastern South Africa from the Great Fish River northwards to Richards Bay
Bird of Paradise (2367720567).jpg Strelitzia reginae (syn. S. parvifolia) Strelitzia, bird of paradise, or crane lily South Africa (the Cape Provinces and KwaZulu-Natal)
Strelitzia juncea flower.jpg Strelitzia juncea (Ker Gawl.) African desert banana[9] South Africa near Uitenhage, Patensie, and just north of Port Elizabeth


Plants in the genus Strelitzia produce no wind-borne pollen, and have an OPALS allergy scale rating of 1, meaning a very low risk of causing allergic reaction.[7]


The genus was named by Joseph Banks in honour of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, queen consort of George III.[10][11]


Strelitzia is also the name of the botanic journal of the Pretoria-based National Botanical Institute,[12] which has since been converted into the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). The Strelitzia journal replaced Memoirs of the Botanical Survey of South Africa and 'Annals of the Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens.[13]


  1. ^ "Strelitzia Banks". Plants of the World Online. The Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. n.d. Retrieved July 15, 2022.
  2. ^ "Strelitzia Banks". Catalogue of Life. Species 2000. n.d. Retrieved July 15, 2022.
  3. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607, Sunset Books
  4. ^ "Tropical Flower Guide". Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  5. ^ "Our House Plants - Bird of Paradise". Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  6. ^ a b Eliovson, Sima (1981). Shrubs, trees, and climbers. Macmillan South Africa. ISBN 0-86954-011-4. Retrieved 2009-09-12.
  7. ^ a b Ogren, Thomas (2015). The Allergy-Fighting Garden. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press. p. 200. ISBN 978-1-60774-491-7.
  8. ^ Cron, Glynis V.; Pirone, Cary; Bartlett, Madelaine; Kress, W. John; Specht, Chelsea (2012). "Phylogenetic Relationships and Evolution in the Strelitziaceae (Zingiberales)". Systematic Botany. 37 (3): 606–619. doi:10.1600/036364412X648562. S2CID 17046806.
  9. ^ Strelitzia juncae, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  10. ^ "Strelitzia reginae Banks". Plants of the World Online. 2017. Retrieved 2021-05-27.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ "Strelitzia reginae". August 2011. Retrieved 2021-05-27.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ "Strelitzia". Strelitzia. 1994. Retrieved 22 August 2021.
  13. ^ "Strelitzia". SANBI. Retrieved 22 August 2021.

External links[edit]