Curiosity

This Funky Plant Has Hummingbird-Shaped Flowers

Whoa! This is so pretty.

Australia is famous for its vast array of quirky creatures — like koalas, kangaroos and wombats — as well as the scarier ones like snakes, spiders, and sharks. Less well known, however, are the continent’s beautiful flora, such as the hummingbird plant.

The hummingbird plant is native to the inland area of northern Australia and also grows throughout Western Australia. It is a legume, specifically a member of the pea family, and has been used by the aboriginal people of Australia to treat eye infections. But what caught our eye is how striking it is.

As you can see in this Instagram post from Moony Creations, the leaves resemble the graceful wings of a hummingbird, and the plant even mimics the bird’s rounded head and beak:

Can you see the resemblance?

hummingbird photo
Getty Images | Dan Kitwood

Interestingly, Australia does not have actual hummingbirds. The closest they come is the Eastern Spinebill, which hovers like a hummingbird but is actually one of a family of birds called honeyeaters.

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Also known as “green birdflowers,” you can easily see where these plants got their name, as they really do look like small green birds. Check out this pic from Instagram user @kimnnyc:

Here’s another look from Instagram user @esther_denise_kali:

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#crotalariacunninghamii #colibri

A post shared by Esther Denise Kali (@esther_denise_kali) on

And here’s an even closer look on Instagram from a video posted by @antoni_hjalmarsson:

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Birdflower #crotalariacunninghamii #birdflower

A post shared by Antoni Hjalmarsson (@antoni_hjalmarsson) on

Another quirky feature of the hummingbird plant is the noise it makes — yes, a plant that makes noise! Its seeds rattle inside the pod, according to the Australian Native Plants Society. This is how it gained the name Crotalaria cunninghamii, which has at its root “crotalon.” This word is Greek for “rattle.”

For this reason, these plants (seen below) are also sometimes called “rattlepods.”

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Hummingbird plants are sometimes grown in home gardens in Australia, as seeds can be purchased online. The plants thrive in sunny, hot areas and they can grow up to 9 feet high.

Australian Seed

So if seeing kangaroos and kookaburras in their native habitats was not enough to lure you to Australia, here’s yet another reason to make the trip Down Under.

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Are you interested in planning a trip to check out Australia’s unique flora and wildlife?