Bird Of Paradise Flower Meaning And Symbolism

One of the most fitting and curious names for an equally intriguing plant, the bird of paradise flower is unforgettable. 

The whole plant is striking, with huge, towering leaves that have an architectural quality, lending height and interest to any garden, conservatory or home, regardless of whether you choose to plant it outside, or keep it as a houseplant.

The flowers of a Bird of Paradise transport the plant to another level of unusual beauty, which is sure to stop anyone in their tracks. 

To add to its spectacular show,  the Bird of Paradise flower also has a lot of symbolism behind it. Here’s everything you need to know. 

Behind The Name: What Does ‘Bird Of Paradise’ Mean?

The common name, Bird of Paradise, references its gorgeous appearance, similar to the bird itself. 

There are several plants which fall under this name, but the most common plant we actually mean is the bird of paradise flower, which falls under the Strelitzia genus. 

The genus name was given by Joseph Banks, who helped put the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew one of the leading botanical gardens in the world. 

He was also the advisor to King George III when it came to the Royal Botanical Gardens, and helped organize the botanists collecting plants from all over the world. 

He named the genus in honor of the then Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who was married to King George III. 

One of the most popular types of Bird of Paradise, the Strelitzia Reginae, translates to ‘of the queen’, further dedicated to Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

What Does a Bird Of Paradise Flower Represent?

The most common meaning – and perhaps the most visible – of the Bird of Paradise flower symbolizes the fantastic aesthetic of nature, and how it can be an ‘Eden’ or paradise. 

It also symbolizes freedom, and being able to move freely through the world, linking to the flower’s appearance, which looks like it’s namesake, the bird of paradise.

The genus name and its unusual appearance also ties into ideas of nobility, royalty, a unique character set above the rest. It signifies positivity, majesty, achievement, and grace.

When given as a gift in a romantic context, it symbolizes the unique and special individual of the recipient, as well as a promise of being unwaveringly faithful to them.

The Bird of Paradise flower is rarely used in bouquets or flower displays, probably because they are only produced on mature plants, and in optimal conditions, which can take anywhere from 2 years or more, depending on how old the plant is when you get it. 

These striking flowers come in different colors, but the most well-known is the vivid orange Bird of Paradise flower.

What’s the Cultural Significance Behind the Bird of Paradise Flower?

In its native South Africa, the Bird of Paradise flower represents freedom because of its resemblance to an elegant bird, and its magical appearance also ties into the idea of a unique beauty or otherworldly quality. 

It also embodies opportunity, and new chances blossoming, which could lead to an increase in wealth or prosperity.  

It’s not used as a specific birth flower like more common flowers such as poppies or violets, but it is given as a gift to celebrate a nine-year wedding anniversary, where it symbolizes fidelity and loyalty.

What Does a Bird of Paradise Tattoo Mean?

The Bird of Paradise flower is a striking subject for any tattoo. It does have some interesting symbolism behind it, just as the actual flower does. 

A Bird of Paradise tattoo means a wealth of creativity and the way it colors your life, a love of the unusual and the unique, and a great sense of freedom or excitement for the future. 

If you’re a fan of the strange or things that make you do a double-take, have personal ties to South Africa, or you’re a plant parent, a Bird of Paradise tattoo may be the perfect subject.

When Should You Give Someone a Bird of Paradise?

Bird of Paradise plants are perfect for many occasions, whether you’re gifting someone the whole plant or just the flower. 

If you’re planning on giving someone a whole Bird of Paradise plant, just be aware that if it’s taken care of properly, it will become a gorgeous giant. Make sure your recipient has room!

Bird of Paradise flowers are perfect for unusual or special occasions to celebrate milestones or difficult achievements, highlighting your recipient’s unique qualities and resilience, which mirrors the qualities this gorgeous plant possesses in abundance. 

Bird of Paradise plants are also given to people as a farewell gift, when they’re starting a new chapter in their lives. 

It’s a message of the wealth of enjoyment your connection has brought to your lives, and how you’ll see each other again. 

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