The Bird of Paradise or crane plant is a plant that bears a unique flower that resembles a bird in flight.
It’s native to South Africa but naturalized in Mexico, Belize, Bangladesh,
Madeira Islands and Juan Fernández Islands off the coast of Chile.
Common names include Strelitzia, Crane Flower or Bird of Paradise,
though these names are also collectively applied to other species in the genus Strelitzia.
The plant grows to 3 ½ to 4 feet in height and has clumps of stiff banana like leaves,
gray to green in color, extending up from its base.
Its flowers emerge from a beak-like structure known as the spathe,
which sits horizontally at the top of a long stalk and forms a sheath that protects the flower.
The color of the spathe ranges from green to purple.
It makes a durable perch for holding the sunbirds which pollinate the flowers.
The flowers, which emerge one at a time from the spathe,
consist of three brilliant orange sepals and three purplish-blue petals.
Two of the blue petals are joined together to form an arrow-like nectary.
When the sunbirds sit to drink the nectar, the petals open to cover their feet in pollen.