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Strelitzia nicolai, Giant white Bird of Paradise

Strelitzia nicolai, Giant white Bird of Paradise
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seeds of Giant white Bird of Paradise


Strelitzia nicolai is also known as Giant white Bird of Paradise. The plant is native to South Africa and reaches a height of about 12 m. The trunk is made up of the giant leaves of Strelitzia nicolai. The leaves get 2 m long and half a meter wide. The leaves look similar to those of the banana. In the past the Strelitziaceae were included into the family of the Musacaeae, the bananas. In recent systematic the Strelitziacae were rated as an own family. Like from the leaves of the banana one can also gain fibers from the leaves of Strelitzia nicolai to produce tear- resistant ropes. The inflorescences of the Giant white Bird of Paradise look extraordinary. They get half a meter long and are made up of one blue bract, white outer petals and blue inner petals.

Strelitzia nicolai is pollinated by birds. As the Giant white Bird of Paradise is native to the old world where there are no humming birds, the birds need an opportunity to sit down on the inflorescence. That is perfectly possible on the inflorescence of Strelitzia nicolai. As the bird sits down the stamens come off the inflorescence and the nectar gets available for the birds. With that trick the Giant white bird of Paradise avoids nectar and pollen loss. The fruit is a capsule that contains the black seeds. The seeds are surrounded by an orange, hairy arrilus.

The seeds of the Giant white Bird of Paradise need pretreatment before planting. They should be put in warm water with some soap for 2 days. After that they can be planted into the moist substrate. At a temperature of about 28°C the first seedlings can be seen after 1 to 6 months. One has to be patient, but it is worth it. Strelitzia nicolai can be place outside in summer but the plant is not tolerant to frost.

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