The national symbol of Tenerife: Bird of Paradise

Photo of Strelitzia reginae taken by me in Jardin Botanico

Just returned from an amazing week in Tenerife. What a stunning nature; mountains, volcanos, forests, gardens, tropical plants and the ocean. If you are a nature lover, as I am, I will definitely recommend you to visit the island. I haven’t been to the other Canary Islands, but I’ve heard and read the Tenerife should be the most bountiful one. I will soon make a guide of the most beautiful gardens to visit, if you are planning to travel there.

The climate on Tenerife is subtropical on the coast, that is very mild, mostly sunny with a year round temperature from 18-25 degrees, and little rainfall during the year concentrated from October to March. In inland areas, however, the climate varies more with altitude and slope exposure. In fact, the slopes exposed to the northeast trade winds receive a fair amount of rain and are green, while in the rest of the island the rainfall is scarce. Therefor the northern part of the island is greener than the southern slopes.

But enough about the climate, let’s talk plants! Specially one plant is seen everywhere strolling down the streets of Tenerife: Bird of Paradise, Strelitzia reginae. This plant is been converted into the symbol of Tenerife. Its botanical name is named after Queen Charlotte, Duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who was also the wife of King George III of England. The plant was introduced to Europe at Kew Gardens in London in 1773 from South Africa. Exactly when, the Bird of Paradise came to Tenerife I don’t know. But today it is widely used as a bedding plant in parks and hotel gardens of Tenerife.

The plant grows to 2 meter tall with large strong evergreen leaves arranged in two ranks making a fan-shaped crown. The hard beak-like sheath from which the flower emerges gave it its name Bird of Paradise. Strelitzia reginae is slow-growing and will not bloom until three to five years have passed since germination. It flowers only when properly established, which makes it difficult to thrive in our Scandinavian homes. The flowers are, however, quite longlasting once the appear.

Strelitzia reginae is a low-maintenance plant as it is fairly tolerant of soil conditions and needs little water once established. They do well in full sun to semi-shade, but are sensitive to cold and need to be sheltered from frost, as it can damage the leaves and flowers.

Photo of Strelitzia alba taken by me in Parque Taoro

I bought some Strelitzia reginae and Strelitzia alba seeds in Tenerife, and I hope my plant skills and a little luck will make the seeds germinate. They need it quite warm to germinate, so I am considering to buy a heat mat or this germination station with insulated heating mat. I will keep you updated on the process!

If you are too impatient to germinate Strelitzia Reginae you can also buy the plant from right here.

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