Native to Madagascar, the traveller’s tree is part of the Strelitziaceae family. It is not a tree (in the botanical sense of the term), but a herbaceous plant with a lacunar stipe, which sometimes makes it resemble a palm tree. By its shape and size, it can be seen from afar. Adult, the stipe is about ten meters in height, bringing its total height to about 20 m. The botanist Philibert Commerson discovered it during his stay in Madagascar in 1779-1780.
Its vast leaves are arranged in a fan shape, in the same plane. Their cup-shaped base retains rainwater in which many mosquitoes come to lay their eggs. In Madagascar, these water reservoirs host very original species which are subservient to this micro habitat (batrachians, beetles and mosquitoes) 5. The petiole is longer than the blade.
When it blooms, it produces large white flowers, with 3 sepals, 3 petals and 6 stamens, in spathes of 15-20 cm. In Madagascar flowering begins in September. Pollination is provided by bats and lemurs.
The fruits are 6-celled capsules, resembling woody bananas, containing numerous seeds surrounded by intense blue fibers which attract birds.