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Bird Of Paradise Vs. Banana Plant

Discover the unique characteristics distinguishing the striking Bird of Paradise plant from the tropical Banana plant.

Bird of paradise and banana plant

The Bird of Paradise and Banana house plants feature broad leaves and lush tropical vibes. However, the Bird of Paradise boasts a more distinctive appearance with its long stems, orange and blue flower bracts, and upright growth habit. At the same time, the Banana plant has a softer, more curved stem and a familiar elongated fruit cluster.

Bird Of Paradise Vs. Banana Plant Quick Look

Plant Characteristics & CareBird Of ParadiseBanana Plant
Scientific ClassificationStrelitzia reginae or Strelitzia nicolai. It belongs to the Strelitziaceae family, genus Strelitzia, and the order ZingiberalesMusa acuminata. It belongs to the Musaceae family, genus Musa, and the order Zingiberales
Plant TypeEvergreen tropical herbaceous plantLarge herbaceous plant
OriginSouth AfricaSoutheast Asia
AppearanceLong, slender stems that emerge from a clump of large, paddle-shaped leaves. It has colorful flowers resembling the head of a tropical birdPseudostem of tightly packed overlapping leaf sheaths, and large waxy bright green leaves
SizeUp to 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 1.8 meters) tall and wide. Its leaves reach up to 18 inches (45 cm) long and 6 inches (15 cm) wideUp to 25 feet (7.6 meters), and their leaves can be up to 9 feet (2.7 meters) long and 2 feet (0.6 meters) wide
WaterPrefers well-draining soil that is allowed to dry out partially between wateringAllow the water to penetrate the root zone, but avoid letting the soil dry out completely between watering
SunBright, indirect sunlight but tolerates partial shadeBright, indirect sunlight

More Information About These Two Plants

Plant Type

The Banana plant is a large herbaceous plant with a pseudostem of tightly packed leaf sheaths. It is not the same as the wild banana, which provides the common edible fruit.

Banana Plant
Photo: IndoorPlants.comBanana plants produce oblong, bright green leaves that resemble palm leaves.

Most edible banana and plantain cultivars grown today are hybrids and polyploids from crossbreeding two wild banana species: Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana.

The Bird of Paradise plant is an evergreen tropical herbaceous plant, meaning that it stays green year-round in its natural habitat and does not have a woody stem. It is a flowering plant that produces large, showy flowers resembling a bird's head, hence its common name.

Bird of Paradise Plant
Photo: IndoorPlants.comThe Bird of Paradise plant is an evergreen tropical herbaceous plant.


The Banana plant is believed to be native to Southeast Asia, particularly in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia regions. The plant was introduced to other parts of the world, such as Africa, the Caribbean, and Central and South America, where it is now widely cultivated.

The Bird of Paradise plant (also called Strelitzia) is native to South Africa, specifically in the eastern part of the country. The plant grows in the wild in the coastal bush and thicket habitats of the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and Mpumalanga provinces of South Africa. The plant has been introduced to warm climate regions around the world, where it grows year-round in temperatures about 50 degrees Fahrenheit.


The Banana plant has a pseudostem of tightly packed leaf sheaths overlapping, giving the stem a thick and sturdy appearance. The leaves are green and have a waxy texture. The plant also produces a large flower stalk that emerges from the center of the pseudostem. This stalk bears a cluster of small white flowers that develop into the familiar elongated fruit cluster of bananas.

Photo: IndoorPlants.comLarge Banana plants are great statement pieces for living spaces.

The Bird of Paradise plant is a striking and distinctive plant with long, slender stems that emerge from a clump of large, paddle-shaped leaves. The leaves are a bluish-green color.

The most recognizable feature of the Bird of Paradise plant is its large, colorful flowers, which resemble the head of a bird of paradise songbird, the plant’s namesake. They are made up of bright orange and blue bracts that emerge from a green pointed beak. The flowers bloom on long stalks that rise above the leaves.

Bird of paradise's most distinct feature is its bloom.

"The banana plant creates a cone-shaped flower with purplish/burgundy colored petals. The Bird of Paradise creates orange or white crane-like flowers, hence why they get the common name Bird of Paradise since they resemble a bird shape," adds Paris Lalicata, Plant Education + Community Engagement Associate at The Sill.

Sepals are green, leaf-like structures surrounding and protecting the flower bud before it opens. They are common to both plants.

Bird of Paradise plant
Photo: IndoorPlants.comBird of Paradise plants need a lot of light to keep them thriving.

"Leaf morphology can be similar in appearance which is why they are often confused but the way the plants grow from the soil are entirely different. The Banana plant grows from a centralized, thick stem that looks similar to what Palm trees have and their leaves can grow up to 10 feet long under optimal conditions. Whereas the Bird of Paradise grows in clusters from the soil and the leaves only get about 6 feet long," adds Lalicata.


Banana plants can grow very large, depending on the species and the growing conditions. They can range in size from small, compact plants that are just a few feet tall to large, towering plants that can reach up to 25 feet (7.6 meters). The leaves of the banana plant can also be very large, with some species producing leaves up to 9 feet (2.7 meters) long and 2 feet (0.6 meters) wide.

The Bird of Paradise plant grows up to 5 to 6 feet (1.5-1.8 meters) tall and wide. It can grow up to 18 inches (45 cm) long and 6 inches (15 cm) wide.


The Banana plant

  • The Banana plant requires regular watering to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.

  • Water the plant deeply, allowing the water to penetrate to the root zone, but avoid letting the soil dry out completely between watering.

  • Although native to warm climates, the Banana plant requires more frequent watering to prevent dehydration during hot and dry weather.

  • Avoid getting water on Banana plant leaves, which can lead to fungal diseases.

The Bird of Paradise plant

  • The Bird of Paradise plant prefers well-draining soil that is allowed to dry out partially between watering.

  • The plant should be watered less frequently when it is not actively growing in the winter months.

  • Avoid over-watering the Bird of Paradise, which can lead to root rot.


The Bird of Paradise plant and the Banana plant require bright, indirect sunlight to thrive.

Place the plant near a window that receives bright, indirect light for several hours daily. The leaves of both plants are sensitive to direct sunlight and can become burned and damaged if exposed to direct sun for extended periods. Therefore, provide the plant with shade during the hottest part of the day or during the summer months.

The one difference is that the Bird of Paradise plant can tolerate some shade.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Bird Of Paradise Plant a Banana Tree or Palm Tree?

It is neither.

Do I have a banana plant or bird or paradise?

If you're uncertain about the type of plant you have, examining the leaves and stem helps determine whether it's a Bird of Paradise or not. Bird of Paradise leaves are typically oblong and grow up to 18 inches in length. They have a subtle taper and resemble canoe paddles.

The central vein of the leaf is pronounce. Unlike most palms and banana trees that have a single, tree-like stem, the Bird of Paradise has a clump of stems.

What plant is similar to the bird of paradise?

Contrary to its name, the traveler's palm is not a palm but a closely related relative of the bird of paradise plant family (Strelitziaceae).

Although Heliconia (or the false bird of paradise) was once classified as a member of either the banana family or the bird-of-paradise family, it is now recognized as a distinct plant family called Heliconiaceae.

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