T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Bird of Paradise (Genus: Strelitzia Ait)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Zingiberales
Family: Strelitziaceae
Genus: Strelitzia Ait.
Species: There are five species of perennial plants are in this genus

The flowers on the Birds of Paradise plant are most unusual. A series of highly coloured bracts (modified leaves) are formed into green, red, and or purplish canoe-like structures. Bracts vary between 10 to 18 cm long depending on the age of the plant. Each flower is made up of three upright orange sepals and three highly modified vivid blue petals. Two of the petals are joined together in a structure resembling an arrowhead with the third petal forming a nectary at the base of the flower.
Each bract contains 2 or more protruding florets of bright yellow or orange elongated petals and a bright blue tongue. The female part of the flower is the long extension of the blue tongue, which is extended well away from the stamens.
Pollination occurs when a pollinator, usually a bird, lands on the arrowhead in search of nectar, the anthers are levered clear of the flower and deposit pollen on the breast of the bird. When the bird flies to another plant, this pollen is transferred to the stigma of the new flower. Then the resulting fruit is a leathery capsule containing numerous small seeds, each with an orange aril and an oil body, possibly to attract birds.