Flowers of the Eastern Cape: no 5 Strelitzia Reginae
The Strelitzia is a native to South Africa. A plant that produces dramatic flower that grows wild in the sub-tropical coastal forest along the East Coast of South Africa. It is often known as a Crane Flower because it somewhat resembles a large bird. It actually gets its name from the birthplace, Mecklenburg-Strelitz, of Queen Charlotte of the U.K., a consort of King George 111.Reginae is a Latin term that refers to royalty. The flower is said to be a symbol of freedom.
Sunbirds are responsible for pollinating these plants and they use the Spathe to perch on to access the pollen. The Spathe is the sheath from which the flower emerges and the weight of the bird opens the flower and this makes the pollen available.
The flower makes a beautiful display in any garden and has been grown in many Botanical Gardens around the world. It is particularly popular in California and is the official flower of the City of Los Angeles. It can often be seen as a central flower in a large display in the well known flower shows in the world.
The Eastern Coast of South Africa in Kwa-Zulu Natal is known as the Strelitzia Coast.
There are several species of this flower including the White Bird of Paradise, Mountain, Crane Lily and African Desert Banana. A yellow species has been named after Nelson Mandela, know as the Mandela Gold.
The plant has been use in traditional medicine as a remedy for swollen gland and to treat venereal disease. In the Cape the seeds in the past are also said to be used to sour milk.
Today it make a beautiful addition to any garden, is a low maintenance plant that self propogates itself. It prduces many flowers several times a year.
References: 1. Wikipedia
2. Liesl vd Walt SA National Biodiversity Institute - Strelitzia Reginae on Google.