Atypical hummingbird flower

Title Info
Scientific name Columnea
Taxonomic group Gesneriaceae
Source Dan L. Perlman
Ecosystems Forests
Forests Tropical rainforest
Ecological interactions Mutualism
Mutualism Pollination
Selection and adaptations Coloration
Coloration Attracting mutualists
Date June 1990 - August 1990
Location Rara Avis,Costa Rica,North America
Atypical hummingbird pollinated flower, from above
Related materials: Columnea
Please click the Related materials link to see several images of this oddball of a hummingbird-pollinated flower. This is a great example of the ways that natural selection creates different solutions to a single problem, in this case the problem of attracting a specific type of pollinator.

Hummingbird-pollinated plant with atypical attractive characteristics, Costa Rica, viewed from above.

Hummingbirds are typically attracted to red or orange tubular flowers. This Columnea shrub in the African violet family has very nondescript yellow flowers that are almost hidden, yet it is also hummingbird pollinated. It turns out that the paired white blotches on the upper surface of each leaf are actually translucent windows. When viewed from beneath they almost glow red, which attracts hummingbirds that then find the flowers.