Strelitzia reginae Mandela's Gold flower

Strelitzia reginae Mandela’s Gold flower

Strelitzia reginae ‘Mandela’s Gold’ or Yellow Bird of Paradise is a yellow variant of Strelitzia reginae that appears spontaneously. Because cross-fertilization with Strelitzia reginae always produces orange flowers it took 20 years of hand pollination to obtain seeds that produce only yellow flowers.

This work was done by John Winter, the curator of the botanical gardens at Kirstenbosch in Cape Town, South Africa. In 1994, there was sufficient stock of seeds to grow the plant commercially.

Originally, the name Strelitzia reginae ‘Kirstenbosch Gold’ was awarded but was later changed Strelitzia reginae ‘Mandela’s Gold’ in honor of Nelson Mandela.

Seeds are still very expensive and available in small quantities.

The only differences with the type are yellow flowers instead of orange and less resistance to cold. Apart from these differences, all the features and care are the same as those of Strelitzia reginae.

Description:

The bracts of the flowers are green with red tones, the flowers are yellow with blue tongues. They appear at the top of the flower stalk that protrudes above the plant. The inflorescence is perpendicular to the petiole and serves as support for honey birds that pollinate the flower.

The relatively hard leaves are green above and dull gray-green below. They measure 25-75 cm long and 10-30 cm wide. They appear at the top of a petiole that can be up to 1 m long.

Nomenclature:

Common names:

Bird of Paradise, Bird-Of-Paradise, Crane Flower, Craneflower, Strelitzia, Yellow Bird of Paradise

Etymology:

In honor of Charlotte de Mecklembourg-Strelitz, wife of King George III.

Origin:

South Africa

Habitat:

River banks and clearings in shrubs, in coastal areas



Hardiness:

USDA zone 9-11, -3 °C for very short periods

Strelitzia reginae Mandela's Gold plant

Strelitzia reginae Mandela’s Gold plant

Care:

Soil:

The plant needs a lot of nutrients, therefore foresee a very rich soil. Use preferably a mixture of topsoil, sand and peat moss.

Exposure:

Sun, light. Full sun will promote flowering.

Water:

Keep the soil moist

Feed:

Fertilize every 2 weeks with liquid universal fertilizer during growing season

Repotting:

Repot annually to obtain vigorous growth

Propagation:

Seed, suckers. When sown, will not flower before 3 to 6 years. Division of the rhizome perturbs florwering.

Sowing instructions:

  • remove the orange tuft from the seed
  • soak 1 day in tepid water
  • sow in a mixture of topsoil, sand and peat moss
  • moisten
  • doesn’t need a very high temperature to germinate: 25 °C. A lower temperature will slow down germination.
  • germination: 4-8 weeks

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