When a bird-of-paradise plant blooms, you instantly see that it has an appropriate name. The blossom of a bird-of-paradise resembles a graceful, tropical bird as it sits serenely upon the foliage of this beautiful tropical plant. While the foliage of the bird-of-paradise is somewhat nondescript, the blossom compensates for the common foliage with its striking beauty. With basic identification pointers, you will know a flowering bird-of-paradise when you see one.
Notice that the bird-of-paradise plant is between 3 and 5 feet high. Leaves grow up from leafstalks that grow directly out of the crown of the bird-of-paradise and may be up to 1 1/2 feet long and 6 inches wide. The leafstalks may be 2 feet high. The leaves are tough and range from gray to greenish-blue in color.
Look for flowers on the bird-of-paradise that grow out of a hard covering called a "spathe." The spathes grow out from the stems at a right angle, and it is the spathe that resembles the bird's head. Colorful flowers grow out of the spathe, including three sepals (orange) and three petals (blue). It is these flowers that resemble the tufts of color on the bird's head. Spathes are commonly single; however, double spathes sometimes occur that create a double bird-of-paradise bloom.
Examine a bird-of-paradise plant carefully to identify it if it is not blooming. The leafstalks and leaves of the bird-of-paradise extend up from the crown of the plant in a fountain-like arrangement. The leaves of the plant are plentiful and create full-looking foliage. When the plant blossoms, the stems will rise amidst the leaves to provide splashes of orange and blue color among the green foliage.