Mexican Bird Of Paradise (Bird Of Paradise) is one of the most popular plants in Mexico. There are many varieties available, but they all have the same basic characteristics: They’re tropical succulents with small leaves and flower heads that resemble birds’ feathers or parrots’.
The name ‘bird of paradise’ comes from their habit of nesting in trees, which look like little nests made out of branches. Birds fly into these nests when they want to lay eggs.
They’re native to Mexico, Central America and South America. They’re sometimes called ‘bird of paradise’, because they’ve been used as ornamental plants in gardens since ancient times.
It’s easy to grow Mexican bird of paradise from seeds. You need only start them indoors at the beginning of spring and let them get established until late summer or early fall before transplanting outdoors where they’ll do well in full sun, but will tolerate partial shade if necessary.
Growing Mexican bird of paradise from seed is not difficult, but it does take time. It takes between 3 and 6 months to germinate in the ground, so you’ll need to wait until your garden is fully grown before planting. If you don’t have enough space in your garden for both indoor and outdoor plants, then you might consider starting Mexican bird of paradise from cuttings instead.
Nothoscordum Brugschianum is the hardy relative of the Mexican bird of paradise, and will tolerate temperatures down to about 15 degrees F. Nothoscordum is one of the easiest to start from seeds, but they’re not as attractive.
The bird of paradise is a tropical plant, native to Mexico and South America, a close relative of the common garden begonia. It’s a summer bloomer, and produces an enormous number of tiny flowers in long spike-like racemes, each about 1 long. The flowers can be any color – white, yellow, orange or red. It grows to about in height and width.
It has long, narrow green leaves that can reach up to long.
The bird of paradise is a moderate water requiring plant that thrives in rich, loamy soil. It grows very well in full sun and partial shade. It can be propagated through seeds, tissue culture and stem cutting.
The Mexican bird of paradise has an interesting method of seed dispersal. The flowers have an insect repellant that gives off a scent similar to rotting flesh, which attracts the carrion insects that feed on dead flesh. This helps prevent self-pollination. These same insects act as carriers when they move onto the next corpse, helping the bird of paradise’s seeds to spread.
However, these plants are toxic and should not be eaten. All parts contain a toxin called norcardione. It can be absorbed through the skin or ingested by eating.
The flowers bloom in the summer and last for only one day. They can develop into a red or orange seed capsule which lasts the entire winter and will sprout in the spring. It takes about 2 years for the plant to grow from an seedling to flower-ready size.
It is a popular garden plant all over the world and has been known to hybridize with other “Strelitzia” species.
These plants are toxic to humans and other animals, but very attractive to insects. The bright color and scent of the flowers attracts insects necessary for its pollination.
The plant prefers bright sunlight but will thrive in partial shade. It requires moist soil but not constantly soaked roots. It can survive in almost any soil type as long as there is minimum of three hours of sunlight a day. The bird of paradise is poisonous and its seeds, leaves, roots, flowers and stem all contain toxic substances.
Hardiness: USDA zones 9B through 11. In zones 8 and below, it is best grown under protection (glass roof, etc. or indoors). Avoid excessive water, especially in winter.
Cuttings: Very easy to root, cuttings will often root in water. Cuttings can also be rooted in soil, sand, perlite or even vermiculite. Rooting hormones are not really necessary but will help the process. Apply the rooting hormone to the base of the cutting and then insert it into the media.
The rooting process should begin in 8-12 weeks.
Division: Can be easily divided in the spring or fall. Division will help with disease and will also help to slow its rapid growth.
Seeds: “Strelitzia reginae” seeds need no treatment before planting. If you can get the seeds to sprout, they will grow into a mature plant! Plant the seeds once all danger of frost has passed. Germination can take a full year but usually takes much less time.
As with many “Strelitzia” species, this plant is toxic and should not be ingested under any circumstances. The plant contains calcium oxalate and will cause extreme pain to the mouth and throat as well as swelling. It may also cause acute vision loss or blindness. Swelling from this chemical can be fatal.
There are over 2 dozen different species of “Strelitzia”. Most are from South Africa, but a few can be found in the Eastern and Western Cape of Southern Africa as well as Madagascar. They are often referred to as the “bird of paradise” due to their resemblance to the bird of the same name. The plant can grow up to 20 feet tall and the leaves can grow up to 3-4 feet long as well.
They have large flowers in a shape of an upside-down cup.
This plant gets its name from King George III of England (1738-1820). He was also known as “Farmer George” due to his love of farming. He was very interested in plants and would often send ships to foreign countries in order to bring new plant life to his own gardens. In 1771, he sent a ship to Cape Town with the specific mission of finding and bringing back any new plants, seeds, fruits or vegetables.
The “Strelitzia” was one of the many new and unusual plants found and sent back to England. It was named in honor of the king by its discoverer, a German doctor and naturalist named Johann Duvernoy.
“Strelitzia” is a genus of the plant family “Asteraceae”. It is native to South Africa. There are over twenty different species of “Strelitzia”. The name “Strelitzia” comes from King George III’s family name, “Sternitz”.
His name was Anglicized to “Strelitz” and then modified to “Strelitzia”. Most species are commonly referred to as a common name of “Bird of Paradise” due to their resemblance to the bird of the same name.
“Strelitzia reginae” is most commonly known as the common white bird of paradise or more commonly the money plant. This is due to its large, white flowers that resemble the shape of coins. Another common name for this species is the queen’s flower. The name “regina” is Latin for queen and was given in honor of Queen Charlotte, George III’s consort.
Most “Strelitzia” species prefer warm subtropical and tropical climates. They dislike cold weather and will die if exposed to frost. “Strelitzia” species are mainly found in the Eastern and Western Cape of South Africa, but some can be found in southern Angola and Tanzania as well. They are found in a variety of habitats from forest to grassland.
“Strelitzia” species contain a powerful toxin called strelitzin. This toxin can be found in the plant’s seeds, roots and leaves. Ingesting this toxin can cause extreme pain to the mouth and throat as well as severe swelling. It may cause vision problems and in rare cases can cause death due to suffocation.
It was once used by natives on the tip of their arrows for hunting.
Multiple “Strelitzia” species, most notably “S. reginae” and “S. narcissiflora” (the narcissus-flowered bird of paradise) are popular house plants due to their beautiful flowers and ability to thrive in a variety of environments. They are very popular in the interior landscape for upscale restaurants and hotels.
In addition to being a popular house plant, “S. reginae” is also popular in the floral industry.
The “Strelitzia” plant has a variety of uses. In its natural form, the bright orange seeds are sometimes strung together and used as necklaces. The hard, woody shell of the seed can be carved into tools and other objects. The leaves can be used for thatching and the fiber within the leaf can be spun into twine.
It’s common name is “money plant” or “money tree” as the flowers are shaped like coins. The fibrous interior of the stem has a similar color to money as well. This gives it its common name of “money tree.” It is believed to attract money and good fortune.
The seeds can also be used as good luck charms. The plant is often used in weddings due to its association with marriage and devotion. It is said that the flowers will bloom according to the happiness of the relationship.
Due to its strong resemblance to the Bird of Paradise plant, it is sometimes sold under this name as well.
Sources & references used in this article:
The Malay Archipelago: the land of the orang-utan and the bird of paradise; a narrative of travel, with studies of man and nature by AR Wallace – 1962 – books.google.com
Pruning Guide for Commonly Used Shrubs by L February–March – chandleraz.gov
Blooming Season and Pruning Recommendations of Some Common Shrubs for Low and Medium Elevations in Arizona by BRF Duster, PF Duster, F Cassia, G Cassia, S Cassia… – amwua.org
Best plants for New Mexico gardens and landscapes: keyed to cities and regions in New Mexico and adjacent areas by BH Morrow – 2016 – books.google.com