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An Australian Plant Has Flowers That Look Like Hummingbirds

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Unique flower shapes are no secret to this world. They’re a favorite among flower enthusiasts as well as botanists, who are always looking to explore them in more detail. But everyone seemed stunned when they noticed that a particular Australian plant featuring flowers that resemble hummingbirds. The details were so noticeable it is hard to believe this would just be an accident. The flower sparked a lot of interest among plant enthusiasts, with many claiming that there’s more to this plant than we know. So what’s the true story behind the hummingbird plant? 

Meet ‘Crotalaria Cunninghamii’ 

Also known as the green birdflower, this gorgeous plant with an adorable flower comes from western Australia. It was named after a popular botanist, Allan Cunningham, who was known for studying the flowers of Australia. Along with its unusual shape, this plant was historically thought to have healing properties and was used by Aboriginal people to treat eye infections. It absolutely loves hot climates and can grow best in sand dunes and sandy soil. Before it blossoms, you’ll find it in the hard seed coat. But once it shows its true beauty, it becomes one of the most interesting-looking flowers you’ve ever seen. 

The Evolution Of The Hummingbird-Lookalike Flower

The flower went viral on Reddit in 2019 when people began to question the origin of this unusual plant. Plants typically grow into interesting shapes to avoid being harmed by bugs and other creatures. Some people on Reddit theorized that the plant developed the same tactic hummingbirds do when they want to show they’re dangerous. However, other people seem to think that the hummingbird shape is just an optical illusion. Several plant enthusiasts also chimed in and said the shape is completely coincidental – the flower may just be shaped that way to attract more pollinators. This statement is supported by the simple fact that you can’t find hummingbirds in Australia. 

Typical Crotalaria cunninghamii can grow up to almost 80 inches. It’s known to produce high-quality fiber, which was historically used by Aboriginal toolmakers. Its large flowers produce the unique hummingbird-shaped petals that give it its distinctive character. Unlike many other plants that reside in unusual habitats, the green birdflower doesn’t pose any threats or hazards. 

A Mystery Among Botanists

The viral Reddit thread became even more interesting when plant ecologist Michael Whitehead chimed in with his thoughts on the plant’s hummingbird flower. Along with its unique shape, it also has a unique color. He revealed that not a lot of research has been done on the plant due to its environment. It thrives in remote Australian deserts and is therefore not a very popular choice among botanists. 

Whitehead revealed that the plant’s large flowers with a long keel may be a result of bird pollination, just not hummingbirds. He also noted that the hummingbird shape completely depends on the angle from which you look at the flower, which could make it entirely coincidental. 

Carlos Magdalena, a researcher at the Royal Botanic Gardens in London, United Kingdom, supported Whitehead’s statement. He also added that there are more than 500 species belonging to the Crotalaria family, with various types of flower shapes. Therefore, the Australian hummingbird flower isn’t something that belongs to the evolution of this plant family. Another plant with a similar bird shape is Pecteilis radiata, which can be found in the wild of various parts of the world. 

Theories behind Crotalaria cunninghamii can’t seem to reach a common conclusion, but one thing’s for certain — the plant world is full of unexpected surprises, and we can’t even imagine what other rare-shaped species are out there. 

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