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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Strelitzia nicolai - White Bird of Paradise

The White Bird of Paradise is usually planted to create a tropical feel in the garden with it's large banana like leaves. They are upright growing monocots on "woody" stems with the foliage clustered at the tips. Plants sucker at the base and can spread as wide as they grow tall.

Leaves are evergreen, banana-like, 5-8' long, about 12-16" wide, grayish green. Leaves get shredded along those veins running from the central to the margins. I like the edges of the petioles.

We often think of monocots having parallel venation, and they do, but they also have leaves like these where the veins seem to be in a pinnate venation pattern like a dicot. Well, they are. Kew Gardens says they are "pinnate with parallel-arching", while others call this penni-parallel venation.

Stems are eventually exposed when the older leaves fall off.

Flowers are strange indeed. They are cluster in a very complex inflorescence with a bluish boat shaped bract from which the individual flowers arise. Each flower has three free white steals and two fused petals and a purplish bit enclosing all the reproductive parts.

It took me years to "see" the bird in these flowers, not sure why but one day it just jumped out at me.

I have read they are somewhat triangular resembling the Traveller's Tree, Ravenala, I wish, wow, what a plant that is.


537 Humes Ave

Santa Cruz
302 Oceanview Ave
603 Washington St.

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