There are 3 genera and 6 or 7 species.
- Strelitzia has 4 or 5 species – S. reginae (Bird of Paradise), S. alba (White Bird of Paradise),
- Ravenala madagascariensis – the Traveller’s palm.
- Phenakospermum guyannense.
S. nicolai (Giant Bird of Paradise) and S. caudata and +/- S. juncea.
Strelitzia never develop a woody trunk.
Medium sized to huge herbs, or palm-like trees.
The underground stems are rhizomes.
The large, simple banana-like leaves are in 2 ranks.
They are on long petioles whose bases sheath the stem.
Terminal or axillary inflorescences have clusters of flowers in a large boat shaped bract or spathe.
The flowers themselves have bracteoles.
There are 6 tepals in 2 whorls of 3 – sometimes described as sepals and petals.
These can be free or some can be fused.
Two of the inner tepals are highly modified and hold the 5 or 6 stamens and the style.
Tepals can be brightly coloured or white or greenish.
The ovaries, of 3 united carpels and 3 locules, are inferior.
The fruit are loculicidal capsules with 3 chambers.
The seeds have coloured, hairy arils (a fleshy layer growing from around the
point of attachment of the seed).