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Bird-of-Paradise Family


By: George Rogers


This small family is related to the Banana Family (Musaceae) and to the broader assemblage once called the Scitamineae:  bananas, heliconias, birds-of-paradise, and gingers. The Strelitziaceae have large bananalike leaves and bilaterally symmetrical flowers largely enclosed in long, horizontal boat-shaped bracts. These are plants of Africa and of Madagascar. The species cultivated in our area are:


1. Plants <10’ tall; flower-bract combinations gold and blue…Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae)

1. Plants > 10’ tall; flower-bract combinations white or white and blue…2

2. Bracts arranged flatly in a single plane, greenish; flowers white…Traveler’s Tree (Ravenala madagascariensis)

2. Bracts radiating 3-dimensionally, not in a flat plane; flowers blue and white…White Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia nicolai)




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