BIRD OF PARADISE (Strelitzia reginae)

Strelitzias are evergreen herbaceous perennials that can become quite large and the most commonly grown one is Strelitzia reginae and to be honest, this is the only variety I’ve ever seen.  I think its one of those plants/flowers you love, or you hate.  All I know is that it has flowers that look like the head of a bird with a bright orange “cocky’s crest” of feather-like petals at the top and to photograph them successfully, you’ve got to catch them just after the bud opens and before it starts to wilt and brown off.

The other tip is to try and isolate one or two blooms from the end of the 3 foot stems, not the whole mature plant, otherwise your photo gets too busy with multiple blooms.  They appear year-round in most gardens according to my plant encyclopaedia, but I never found this in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne where the photo in this post was made.  I often walked past the same intersection of paths, waiting for just the right day (of the season), to photograph them.

Apparently, this plant has a giant cousin,Strelitzia nicolai which has foliage more like a banana palm and up to 15 feet tall!  The flowers are very large also.  I don’t remember ever seeing one, but that doesn’t mean to say our Botanic Gardens doesn’t have one among its 55,000 plants/trees.

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