My Giant Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia nicolai) is growing at the end of the driveway right next to the street – it’s a good marker for people trying to find the house for the first time. I used to say “when you see the 20′ Bird of Paradise at the end of the street, turn right.” The tallest stem was removed a few months ago ( it was starting to lean like that tower in Pisa!) … chainsaw required. Now it is only 15′ … a massive plant none the less. The leaves fan out from multiple stems which rise from a single base making for a bold accent and the anchor plant of the front yard.
Unlike the more commonly known orange and blue Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) flowers commonly sold in the floral trade, the white and muted blue flowers of the Giant Bird are less showy.
The flowers grow in clusters and when the spent blossoms are removed you better have eaten your Wheaties that day because they are heavy!
The birds just love the sugary sap which oozes like vampire’s blood – Woodpeckers, Goldfinches, House Finches, Orioles and Hummingbirds all enjoy the elixir.
The winds tear the leaves so they resemble an Alligator with its mouth open. When I saw the leaves off, only fit 3 or 4 in the green waste barrel because they are so large and heavy.
This bird requires a lot of space to grow and the sap secreted from the flowers can be messy – love it but one is enough for me!