Worth the wait . . . Elvajean Harrington, of Mataura, admires her bird of paradise flower, which bloomed for the first time since it was planted 50 years ago. PHOTO: MICHAEL CURREEN

If it were not for its sentimental value, Elvajean Harrington probably would have got rid of her bird of paradise plant, which is finally blooming after 50 years.

The Mataura woman said she got it as a pot plant from her parents more than 50 years ago after they visited Blenheim.

‘‘I kept it as a pot plant.

‘‘[I] kept chopping off these dead-looking leaves and nothing [happened].

‘‘Mum kept saying ‘oh, it’ll flower’.’’

However, years on it had not flowered.

The plant started getting too big for its pot.

‘‘I thought, ‘sentimental me, Mum gave it to me — I’m not throwing it out’.

‘‘So I just stuck it out in the garden there.’’

It had been there ever since ‘‘just producing dead leaves’’.

However, late last year her daughter noticed something different.

Mrs Harrington was sceptical, as the plant had never flowered before.

But, sure enough, she saw the first flower when she arrived home from Arrowtown early in the new year.

‘‘I was over the moon.

‘‘I go down there all the time.

‘‘I’m watching every day.’’

It had since produced six flowers.

The plant originated from South Africa.

While it seemed to grow well in the North Island, she had never seen another one flower in Southland.

‘‘Why it’s flowered now, I don’t know,’’ she said.

‘‘I’ll look after it better now.’’