When I balked at the usual carnations and vanda orchids, for my date's corsage, my Mom, the florist, ordered a Bird of Paradise from her supplier. It was one, lone flower. And immediately we saw that the stem was thick and woody and that the flower was not exactly corsage making material.
But the florist persevered, and by taking the entire flower apart and wiring each petal of the starburst separately, something spectacular was created for my date. The horticulturist in my mother explained that the flower was unique, in that it was one of few that contained colors of opposites on the color wheel - orange and blue.
There are strelitzia plants growing now in my garden in a pot, but they don’t bloom. I abuse them, restricting their roots and not giving them the nutrients they ask for.
These blooms in the photo came from a vendor in the nearby Santiago market. They cost little for the memories and exoticism they bring to our dining room.
This species is native to South Africa but naturalized in Mexico.