Inspiration Blooms in the Bird of Paradise

Bursts of Lively, Energetic Color from the Official Flower of Los Angeles, the Bird of Paradise, Create the Inspiring Backdrop for the Entertainment Capital of the World

It adorns front yards and highway medians, strip malls and boulevards, and its bright orange and indigo blooms are on display year-round in the most extreme drought and heat.

The bird of paradise, the official flower of the city of Los Angeles, has become part of everyday life here in our southern section of the Golden Coast. We find this striking plant in nearly every park, every neighborhood, every landscape arrangement. It’s the visual backdrop of a city so rich in diversity, so sprawling and full of life. Its bright orange and indigo blooms, its commanding size, its sea of deep green foliage. This is the palette of Los Angeles.

The Colors of the Bird of Paradise

We’ve pulled five lively shades from this majestic plant and matched them to Pratt & Lambert colors, composing a bird of paradise–inspired palette that is entirely Los Angeles and entirely great design.

Bird of Paradise
Colors shown in palette (top–bottom) are White Smoke 26-2, Baby Carrot 8-11, New Glarus 21-20, Blue Chalk 27-25, and Ever Sunshine 15-6.

The light softness of White Smoke 26-2 brings a breath of simplicity and cleanliness to the palette. The strong orange of Baby Carrot 8-11, the muted blue of Blue Chalk 27-25, and the brightness of Ever Sunshine 15-6 reflect the exotic playfulness of each petal of the flower. The dark green of New Glarus 21-20 rounds out our palette as the perfect backdrop for the profusion of color inspired by the bird of paradise’s flowers.

This is the kind of palette that livens homes and workspaces with its unique combination of tones and its ever-positive vibes—and it couldn’t be more fitting. The flower that inspired and enraptured Los Angeles over a century ago is continuing to do so with always present, always beautiful color.

About the Bird of Paradise

Native to KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, the bird of paradise made its way to international shores when an English explorer brought it into the flower trade. The plant made its way to Europe in the late 1700s and quickly became a staple of the Royal Gardens and a favorite of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who also happened to be the queen of England. Shortly after, the African flower was named Strelitzia reginae, in her honor. Strelitzia, after her name, and reginae, meaning “of the queen” in Latin.

Bird of Paradise

Introduced to Southern California in 1853 by a Col. Warren of Sacramento, the bird of paradise flourished, adapting easily to the dry, hot climate. Californians embraced the plant, eventually revering it as a symbol of sexuality and later turning it into one of the most mass-produced flora of the area. Finally, in 1952, it was named the official flower of the city of Los Angeles, a distinction that no other flower had held.

The Forever Flower of Los Angeles

Today, despite the bird of paradise being all around us, we rarely notice its brilliant flowers, its stately foliage, its commanding presence. We no longer marvel at how its blooms imitate a crane or even a bird in flight. We seldom take the time to recognize its beauty, and yet there is so much inspiration waiting for us in each orange and indigo petal, in each boat-shaped, dark green leaf—and this is exactly why the flower’s palette is so enchanting, so fresh, so Los Angeles. The colors are familiar and yet new. Safe and yet daring.

Like cobblestone streets in Italy or the mountains of Colorado, the bird of paradise provides a vibrant backdrop to our dry landscape—a backdrop that may at times go unnoticed but never goes unappreciated. And while it may not be native to our region, we certainly treat it as such. It’s one of us, and its palette continues to inspire.