Strelitzia juncea, the rush-leaved crane flower, is an evergreen perennial reaching heights beyond 1,5 m and spreading as widely. A monocot herb, the plant grows a rush-like tuft of many stems from a mass of fleshy roots. This specimen was seen in November in the Caledon Wildflower Garden.
The stiff, straight and leafless stems represent the defining characteristic of the species. Poker-like and cylindrical, without leaf blades or merely tiny, narrow ones on young plants, only stems remain on mature plants. These stems serve well as leaf substitutes in photosynthesis, rendering leaf blades redundant.
An earlier name of the species, S. parvifolia var. juncea, recognises the small early leaves; parvus meaning small in Latin. The plant generally resembles S. reginae in growth habit (Bond and Goldblatt, 1984; Eliovson, 1984; www.plantzafrica.com).