This Strange Plant Has Flowers With Petals Shaped Like Hummingbirds

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When Redditor Octopus Prime posted this photo of an unusual looking plant, and it’s the coolest looking thing! In the palm of someone’s hand, what appears to be an origami hummingbird is actually a flower petal.

The plant in question is known as the green flowerbird or regal flowerbird. Crotalaria cunninghamii is the stunning plant’s scientific name. It’s a member of the legume family that includes chickpeas and alfalfa. The perennial shrub is native to inland northern Australia, where it thrives along sandy dunes. Its ties to Australia are quite ironic, considering that no hummingbirds live there.

Researchers say that the plant may look like a the popular bird to a human eye, but that the plants petals are most certainly not intended to be shaped like an actual bird.

It’s highly unlikely that any non-human would mistake the flowers for birds. What we’re experiencing when looking at the photo is something called simulacrum. Similar to the illusion we see when looking at trompe-l’oeil paintings, our eyes are tricking us into seeing a representation of an object that isn’t actually present.

The shape of the Crotalaria cunninghamii flower is actually owed to a common anatomical trait of legumes. Many have Papilionaceous flowers, which are characterized by irregular clusters of five petals and a large upper petal known as a banner.

Either way, the plant is pretty awesome looking!