Bird Of Paradise Flowers Meaning & Symbolism

The brightly colored Strelitzia flowers’ nickname Bird of Paradise flowers is enchanting. This common name has dual symbolism as an exotic plant and a bird in an idyllic setting. Whether the flowers resemble a bird’s shape or flight is open to interpretation. The flowers’ significance and reference to paradise are definitely beyond its botanical roots.

The Bird of Paradise flowers is of the Strelitziaceae family and is the Strelitzia reginae (meaning royal) genus. This flower’s unique-shaped and strikingly colored flowers have earned accolades at premium flower shows, are a revered national symbol, and a popular emblem of regality in tattoos.

The splendor and magnificence of the Bird of Paradise flowers are associated with a range of meanings that includes joyfulness and (not surprisingly) paradise. On tattoos, the Bird of Paradise flowers signal faithfulness and love. The flowers are a symbol of freedom and even immortality. These symbols and meanings offer manifold interpretations, as you’ll see.

Bird Of Paradise Flowers’ Meanings Symbolize Emotions

Though the meanings and symbolism given to flowers vary, the human emotions that are personified are basic. Based on feelings or longings, these emotions define a person’s need for recognition or to work against sadness, fear, even anger. The symbolism in the Bird of Paradise flowers implies happiness and amongst its meanings are:

  • Freedom
  • Escape
  • Joyfulness.

The Bird of Paradise flower name takes on exotic meanings, and the strength of this flower’s symbolism is in the way the flower is described: no ordinary bird but one in paradise. In this symbolic interpretation, the flower is a bird more than a flower. The magnificence associated with the Bird of Paradise flowers is that of paradise.

The botanical naming of the Strelitzia reginae (in the Strelitziaceae family) is significant to the meaning and symbolism of this flower. This significance is linked to the botanist, the institution, and more directly to the baroness, whom this flower is named after (see below). The flowers’ significance and symbolism are queen and court from her courtly designation.

A popular reference to the symbolism of the Bird of Paradise flowers is that of paradise on earth. Other meanings are superiority, splendor, and triumph associated with royalty and regality (as seen above). The flower is also regarded as a quintessential tropical flower known to have originated in South Africa.

Botanical Naming Of The Bird Of Paradise Flowers Is Regal

In the late seventeenth century, English botanist Sir Joseph Banks used the epithet ‘reginae’ (from the Latin: of the queen or royal) to describe the specific Strelitzia genus commonly known as the Bird of Paradise flowers.

Bird of Paradise flowers is the common name, whereas the botanical name that of Strelitzia reginae commemorates the British queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz – a baroness and the wife of the wife of King George III. She was known as a botanical enthusiast and lover of plants. By association, this too influences people’s meanings and responses.

The Bird of Paradise flowers or Strelitzia reginae is also known as the ‘crane flower’. There are five distinct Bird of Paradise flowers – each flower shapes seen or often imagined as a bird flying. Whether the flower represents a bird flying or whether the flower is the bird sitting has been debated, and this adds to the Bird of Paradise flowers’ symbolism.

The Bird of Paradise flowers have three bright orange (yellow and white) petals and three blue petals fused into a single bud. Fascinatingly, floral decorators cut the flowers in the budding stage and have devised a way to open the buds to get the ‘bird’ out for ornamental floral arrangements.

Japanese ikebana floral artists use the Bird of Paradise flowers in stylized floral arrangements. They call the Bird of Paradise flower by its other nickname, the crane flower. In Japanese floral art and arrangement, the crane flower is considered a flower of good fortune. 

The Birds Of Paradise Flowers’ Significance

The Birds of Paradise flower (Strelitzia reginae) is one of the world’s best-known plants and is identified by its striking colors and unique shape. From a symbolic perspective, the flower’s name refers to a bird, an exotic one, and there’s the meaning of paradise. These flowers are indigenous to the subtropics and signify peacefulness and escapism.

Other similes associated with the Bird of Paradise flowers’ name are bliss or utopian states. Arguably the most obvious way the meaning and the symbolism of the Bird of Paradise flowers have been portrayed is through the work of the tattoo artists and their clients’ desire to have their bodies embellished with this exotic flower (see below).

On another symbolic level, the Bird of Paradise flowers is the official flower of Los Angeles. In Hawaii, the Bird of Paradise Flowers grows wild and are known as “Little Globe”. The flower’s symbolic meaning here is magnificence. Floral artist Georgia O’Keefe, famously painted a White Bird of Paradise flower when she lived in Hawaii in the forties.

More Meaning And Symbolism In Bird Of Paradise Flowers

The Bird Of Paradise flowers’ meaning is joy, joyfulness, paradise, freedom, and even immortality. The Bird of Paradise flowers is also the official flower for a ninth wedding anniversary. The significance of the Bird of Paradise flowers is associated with feeling like:

  • Faithfulness and Love
  • A good perspective on life

Notably, the first democratically elected African president Nelson Mandela, a Noble Peace Price Laurette, has a rare yellow Strelitzia variety in the genus Strelitzia reginae dedicated to him (see below).

Noble Laurette Honoured By Bird Of Paradise Flowers

The name of South Africa’s first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela, is linked to one of the world’s most prized Bird of Paradise flowers’ species. Whether the significance of this world leader and as Noble Peace Prize Laurette adds meaning and symbolism to the Bird of Paradise flowers is speculative.

It’s also unclear if the meaning and symbolism in the Bird of Paradise flowers influenced the decision to rename a variety in the Strelitzia reginae genus in honor of Mandela. This renaming was after Mandela became president. However, like the Bird of Paradise flowers represent freedom, so does Nelson Mandela’s name epitomize freedom.

The Bird of Paradise flower named after Mandela is the Mandela Gold Strelitzia. Previously it was known as the Kirstenbosch Gold Strelitzia that was exhibited at the ‘olympics’ of floral shows, the Chelsea Flower Show, in the late nineties.

Tattoo Enthusiasts Love Bird Of Paradise Flowers

Arguably, the Bird of Paradise flowers’ fullest meaning and symbolism is as a tattoo on the human body. The Bird of Paradise flowers signal paradise on earth for the tattoo artist and wearer. The Bird of Paradise tattoo symbolizes liberty and freedom to the wearer. The flower as a bird in flight has additional symbolism, like escaping from reality.

This unique plant has inspired tattooists to come up with many variations, mainly in the rich floral colors of the Bird of Paradise flowers and the unique shape of the flower. The magnificence of the flower with its yellow, orange, or white leaves and the blue stem has inspired many a tattoo. Tattooists have even abstracted the flower into a simple ink drawing.

Tattoo artists regard the meaning of a Bird of Paradise tattoo as beyond ordinary. The symbolism in the Bird of Paradise flower suggests that the wearer seeks superiority, splendor, and even triumph.

Tattooists say their clients are drawn to the Bird of Paradise flowers as the Latin name of the genus, Strelitzia reginae, links to British queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Herewith comes a sense of royalty and regality that they are keen to associate with.

Symbolism In The Bird Of Paradise Flower And Tattoo

Body art gurus and tattooists are fascinated by the complementary colors in this exotic flower. Many artists’ works appear on Pinterest in photo galleries where these are display cabinets of the beauty of the Bird of Paradise Flowers as tattoos. Tattooists regard this emblem as a symbol of originality and uniqueness for the wearer – a way of standing out.

In addition to the Bird of Paradise flowers’ many variations for tattoos, tattooists also use the symbolism of this plant’s other name, the ‘crane flower’. Here the symbolism of this exotic flower is equated with that of the large, long-legged, and long-necked African crane.

Tattooists say that the crane symbolizes wisdom, balance, and independence, as seen in solitude and vigilance. For the Japanese culture, the crane indicated good fortune.


Though the meanings and symbolism we give to flowers vary, we choose what attributes these personify. We are drawn to these for personal reasons. Sometimes it’s the shape or color of a botanical species that attracts us, but primarily it’s the plant’s name that gives it its symbolic meaning.

The magnificence and beauty of Bird of Paradise flowers or Strelitzia reginae flowers, even beyond their naming, inspire a range of meaning and symbolism.