December 28, 2011
WWII Navy veteran R.P. Vonderaa displays a beautiful exotic strelitzia reginae, commonly known as a bird of paradise flower, at his home in Lee County Tuesday. Vonderaa received the tropical plant as a gift from his daughter, who lives in West Palm Beach, Fl., five years ago and this is the first time the plant has bloomed. Bird of paradise flowers, also known as crane flowers in its native South Africa, are thought to symbolize liberty, joyfulness and paradise and are the ninth-wedding anniversary flower. The perennial plants are pollinated by birds that use the beak-like sheath as a perch where they drink nectar and pick up pollen on their feet and breasts which is deposited on the next flower they visit. Vonderaa keeps the potted plant in his sunroom and garage to maintain a temperatures of over 50 degrees.
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This is the first time this flower has bloomed in five years.