Strelitzia reginae

My first meeting with this flower occurred when I was a senior in high school. My mother was a florist, and there was to be a dance at school, and I needed a corsage for my date. And when I balked at the usual carnations and vanda orchids, saying that I wanted something spectacular, Mom ordered one lone flower from her supplier.

The strelitzia, otherwise known as a bird of paradise, arrived. Immediately

we saw that the stem was thick and woody and 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. She 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 by restricting them and not giving them the nutrients they need to flourish.

These blooms come 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.

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