The genus strelitzia – more commonly known as the bird of paradise, or crane flower – contains five perennial species, and is a native of South Africa. These strong, hardy plants can grow anywhere from 4 to 6 and ½ feet in height and bear large, thick leaves that are similar in appearance to its musaceae family sister, the banana leaf. The bird of paradise flower grows from a thick spathe, and is made up of three bright orange and three deep blue petals – two of which are fused together to create a spade-like appearance. All of these combined features are said to give the appearance of the beak and plumage of a colorful bird in flight.
Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who was an avid botanist, led the way to discovering the bird of paradise flower, and thus, the genus was named in her honor. But this small piece of history is only a tiny part of the flower’s vibrant existence. For instance, the bird of paradise flower has become the focal point of many artists. The bright hues and exotic features of these flowers have made their way into the work of famous and independent painters such as Pam Houle, Marshall White and Derek McCrea.
The bird of paradise flower has come to symbolize many things. To some they are a symbol of freedom and joy. To others they are the emblem for paradise itself, while other people feel that they are the perfect representation of a good and clear perspective on life. When given as a romantic gift, these flowers are often thought to mean faithfulness. This is not surprising, as they are also commonly given on the 9th wedding anniversary. Despite the variety of meaning that these flowers hold, they are mostly given for their unusual beauty alone. These flowers look fantastic by themselves or bundled into bouquets of a variety of blooms. For something a little different you can also create a basket filled with flowers and equally exotic goodies.