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Hummingbirds Lunch Plant

The Fascinating Relationship Between Hummingbirds and Their Lunch Plant

Hummingbirds are renowned for their vibrant colors, incredible agility, and their ability to hover in mid-air. These tiny birds, found only in the Americas, are a delight to observe as they flit from flower to flower, sipping nectar with their long, slender beaks. While hummingbirds are known to feed on a variety of flowers, there is one plant that has a particularly special relationship with these enchanting creatures – the hummingbird lunch plant.

What is a Hummingbird Lunch Plant?

The hummingbird lunch plant, scientifically known as Epiphyllum oxypetalum, is a species of cactus native to Central and South America. It is commonly referred to as the “queen of the night” due to its nocturnal blooming habit. The plant produces large, fragrant flowers that open at night and close by morning.

What makes the hummingbird lunch plant unique is its symbiotic relationship with hummingbirds. While most plants rely on insects or wind for pollination, the hummingbird lunch plant has evolved to attract hummingbirds as its primary pollinators. The plant’s large, tubular flowers are perfectly adapted to accommodate the long beaks of hummingbirds, allowing them to access the nectar deep within the flower.

The Perfect Lunch Spot

Hummingbirds are attracted to the hummingbird lunch plant not only for its nectar but also for the shelter it provides. The plant’s sprawling, epiphytic nature allows it to grow on trees or rocks, providing a safe haven for hummingbirds to rest and nest. The thick, succulent leaves of the plant also offer protection from predators.

Furthermore, the hummingbird lunch plant blooms during the dry season when other nectar sources may be scarce. This makes it a vital food source for hummingbirds during this time, ensuring their survival and contributing to the overall health of their populations.

Adaptations for Mutual Benefit

The relationship between hummingbirds and the hummingbird lunch plant is a classic example of mutualism, where both parties benefit. The plant relies on hummingbirds for pollination, while the hummingbirds depend on the plant for sustenance and shelter.

Over time, both the plant and the hummingbirds have developed specific adaptations to enhance this mutualistic relationship. The plant’s tubular flowers are perfectly shaped to fit the hummingbird’s beak, ensuring efficient nectar extraction. The flowers also produce a sweet fragrance that attracts hummingbirds from a distance.

On the other hand, hummingbirds have evolved long, slender beaks and tongues to access the nectar hidden deep within the flowers. Their ability to hover in mid-air allows them to feed on the nectar without landing on the plant, reducing the risk of predation.

Conservation Importance

The hummingbird lunch plant and its relationship with hummingbirds have significant conservation implications. As habitat loss and climate change threaten the survival of many species, preserving the habitats of hummingbirds and their lunch plants becomes crucial.

By protecting the hummingbird lunch plant and its associated ecosystems, we can ensure the survival of not only these fascinating birds but also the countless other species that rely on these habitats. Additionally, understanding the intricate relationships between plants and pollinators can help us develop effective conservation strategies for other threatened species.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • 1. How do hummingbirds find the hummingbird lunch plant?

    Hummingbirds have excellent color vision and are attracted to bright, vibrant flowers. The hummingbird lunch plant’s large, fragrant flowers and their tubular shape make them highly visible and appealing to hummingbirds.

  • 2. Can hummingbirds feed on other flowers besides the hummingbird lunch plant?

    Yes, hummingbirds are known to feed on a wide variety of flowers. However, the hummingbird lunch plant provides a particularly important food source during the dry season when other nectar sources may be scarce.

  • 3. Are there different species of hummingbird lunch plants?

    Yes, there are several species of Epiphyllum that are commonly referred to as hummingbird lunch plants. While they may vary in appearance, they all share the characteristic of attracting hummingbirds as their primary pollinators.

  • 4. How can I attract hummingbirds to my garden?

    To attract hummingbirds to your garden, you can plant a variety of nectar-rich flowers, including species that are known to be favored by hummingbirds. Providing a water source, such as a birdbath or a hummingbird feeder, can also help attract these delightful birds.

  • 5. Can I grow a hummingbird lunch plant in my home?

    Yes, it is possible to grow a hummingbird lunch plant indoors or in a greenhouse. However, these plants require specific care, including well-draining soil, bright but indirect light, and regular watering. It is important to research the specific needs of the plant and provide the appropriate conditions for its growth.

  • 6. Are hummingbird lunch plants endangered?

    While the hummingbird lunch plant is not currently listed as endangered, habitat loss and illegal collection for the horticultural trade pose threats to its populations. Conservation efforts are necessary to ensure the long-term survival of this unique plant and its associated ecosystems.


The relationship between hummingbirds and the hummingbird lunch plant is a remarkable example of nature’s intricate web of interdependencies. These tiny birds rely on the plant for sustenance and shelter, while the plant depends on the hummingbirds for pollination. By understanding and appreciating this relationship, we can work towards conserving these species and their habitats, ensuring their survival for generations to come.