Far Out Flora

Strelitzia Down


Yesterday morning we discovered that our Strelitzia nicolai (Giant Bird of Paradise) took some heavy damage.  So what?!?  …did one of those big raccoons fall on it?  Hum…

Strelitzia nicolai - Bird of Paradise Tree

Leaves from the Strelitzia nicolai - Bird of Paradise Tree

So below is the last photo of our plant (it’s the dead center one that looks a little like a banana plant).  We originally bought this Strelitzia off of Craigslist about 2 years ago for dirt cheap…the guy bought the wrong plant and couldn’t return it.  You see S. nicolai is the tree version of its shrubbier and more common cousin…Strelitzia reginae (Bird of Paradise).  Also known as Giant Bird of Paradise, it grows about 2-4 times taller and would have made a good screen in the corner of the garden.

Last time we documented the happy Strelitzia nicolai

Before - Strelitzia nicolai

So back to the mystery.  Megan checked it out the damage and quickly saw a bunch of dirt mounded near the base…and that she could easily pull out each leaf stalk.  That’s not good.  Normally you need a pruning shears to cut out the stalks cuz their so fibrous.

Strelitzia nicolai ...Missing

After - Strelitzia nicolai ...Missing

Strelitzia nicolai - Bird of Paradise Tree

Yeah, those mounds of dirt are all too familiar in our yard and garden.  In the detail below, you can almost make out the chewing marks from our Enemy #1…the evil pocket gopher.

Stalks from the Strelitzia

Stalks from the Strelitzia

I didn’t think it possible, but I hate those little furry creatures even more. So what to do?  We refuse to poison the gophers.  Why?  There are a lot of hawks & owls in the area and each of those birds of prey can eat 10s to 100s of gophers, rats, etc in a single year.  If they eat one poisoned gopher…the bird dies…and that’s just plain bad news.  (and yeah…we’re a little lazy and/or confused about trapping them).  So on to the bright side.  Hey, more room for more plants!

– Far Out Flora


  1. That’s the way to keep it positive. More plants! There is also the idea of a cat! All my neighbors have rodents, but my yard is vermin free. I’m just sayin’.

  2. I’m very saddened to hear about your strelitzia, but also glad that like myself, you refuse to poison pests in the garden. My reasoning is a little different, and I simply like to attract all the wildlife that feeds on the critters so I have my own little ecosystem. And as much as I love kitties, I do sometimes worry about the beneficial creatures they kill. My fiance’s cat killed such a diverse variety of nonvenomous snakes and it was a horrible shame to only see them dead.

    Are white BOPs hard to come across in your area? They’re pretty commonly available around here, sometimes on the cheap right before the winter frosts kick in. I once found a big clump that wouldn’t even fit in my car, on clearance for $17!

  3. Terrible! But man — your garden is looking GOOD!

  4. So sorry about the fallen Strel!

    On another note, I have to ask you the name of the tree/shrub directly to the right of it.. I purchased the same tree this time last year but the nursery had no idea what it was, only saying it was an Australian native? It flowered, striking tall purple spikes, and has not flowered again.

    I have wanted to ask you this for some time since we have similar aesthetics, but had no idea you actually had the same plant. Not knowing the ID of this has driven me crazy… Help?

    And yes- your garden is looking rich and lovely these days, thanks for BEING.

    • Ema, you must be talking about our Echium candicans aka Pride of Madeira. I bet you at least have an Echium. Ours would bloom in the spring, but hasn’t yet. We’re crossing our fingers for it to bloom this year.

  5. Wow…that’s a big plant to have taken out by a pesky rodent! I’d avoid the kitty route if I were you. I assume your doggie is a lot like most doggies and the “snacks” hidden around the garden by the cat is just too gross.

  6. Pingback: Help! What should we plant? « Far Out Flora's Blog

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