Strelitzia ( /strɛˈlɪtsiə/) is a genus of five species of perennial plants, native to South Africa. The genus is named after the duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, birthplace of Queen Charlotte of the United Kingdom. A common name of the genus is bird of paradise flower, because of a supposed resemblance of its flowers to the bird of paradise. In South Africa it is commonly known as a crane flower.
A Strelitzia plant photographed in Alicante, Spain
The species S. nicolai is the largest in the genus, reaching 10 m tall, with stately white and blue flowers; the other species typically reach 2 to 3.5 m tall, except S. caudata which is a tree of a typically smaller size than S. nicolai. The leaves are large, 30–200 cm long and 10–80 cm broad, similar to a banana leaf in appearance but with a longer petiole, and arranged strictly in two ranks to form a fan-like crown of evergreen foliage. The flowers are produced in a horizontal inflorescence emerging from a stout spathe. They are pollinated by sunbirds, which use the spathe as a perch when visiting the flowers; the weight of the bird on the spathe opens it to release the pollen onto the bird’s feet, which is then deposited on the next flower it visits.