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Latin name: Campsis radicans
Superpowers: This plant doesn't need bees to spread pollen
Where from: North America
Flowers often use bees to spread pollen from one to another, which helps them to produce fruit and seeds. But in America, the trumpet vine does not use bees, it uses birds called hummingbirds. Hummingbirds have long beaks and tongues to feed from the big, brightly coloured flowers. Rather than flapping their wings, they move them in a figure of eight so they can hover like tiny helicopters and they can even fly backwards! The bee hummingbird is the smallest bird in the world.
Bird pollinated flowers produce lots of sugary nectar, as birds get very hungry. The flowers are often very long and thin with the nectar at the bottom of a long tube. The birds’ beaks are long and thin to match, so they can get to the nectar at the bottom of the flowers, but the bees can’t steal it. Bird flowers are not usually scented as birds do not smell very well. While the bird is feeding, its head gets covered in pollen that it passes on to the next flower it visits.
The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.