~ Strelitzia nicolai ~
Giant Bird of Paradise


Height: 35'   Growth rate: Medium   Climate zones: 8-17 to 27°   Origin: South Africa


Giant Bird of Paradise

Strelitzia nicolai is a beautiful palm like plant from South Africa that very much resembles a banana plant with its wide, dark green, tropical leaves. However, ornamentally it holds many advantages over the common banana plant. First, the banana foliage is very weak and shreds easily in the wind whereas the Giant Bird of Paradise foliage is relatively sturdy and even persists in windy locales along the coast with minimal tearing. Secondly, the Giant Bird creates a beautifully ringed, permanent woody trunk which gracefully arches ever higher toward the sky whereas the banana has a soft trunk which leans over and dies within 2 years of planting (after flowering). Additionally, unlike the banana, Strelitzia is moderately drought tolerant due to its sturdy, sun reflective foliage, tuberous root structure, and water storing woody stem. And if that were not enough to make you want one, the Giant Bird is called such due to its striking flower of blue and white it produces annually from the stem just below the foliage head (resembling a bird in flight of course). Cut that baby off, put it in a large vase on the dining room table and watch your guests freak out in amazement at your horticultural prowess! Recommended for Northern California zones 15-17, but grows well along side large walls or in protected microclimates within zones 8, 9, and 14. Excellent as a potted plant.

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Palm Society