Just as bees and butterflies are pollinators of certain aromatic plants, here, in the southwest United States, you will find that hummingbirds are attracted to some aromatic plants, too. Hummingbirds are industrious souls and a great addition to any garden!
Hummingbirds are one of the most dominant bird species that pollinate ornithophilous flowers; some species of hummingbirds are co-evolved which means that both the hummingbird and the flower species are reliant on each other for continued evolution. There are various aromatic species of plants that hummingbirds favor, although it should be noted that hummingbirds are more attracted to the color of a flower, rather than the scent.
Hummingbirds and Pollination
Hummingbirds have a poor sense of smell so plants rely on visual stimulation to attract hummingbirds as pollinators. Hummingbirds are attracted to brightly-colored flowers that are designed to spread pollen on the bird’s back or head when it delves into the flower for nectar; the bird then transports this pollen to “mate” with a compatible part of the plant on its next stop for nectar. However, several of these visually-attractive plants are also aromatic, so can form part of your aromatic garden in order to attract hummingbirds.
Hummingbirds and Red Flowers
Hummingbirds are particularly attracted to red flowers, although opinion varies on why this is so. Many ornithophilous flowers that require pollination by birds are red; they contain nectar (a source of food for the bird) that attracts the bird and in return the bird carries off pollen for future pollination. Previous studies (Raven, 1972) have concluded that red was a color that was not seen by insects, and therefore allowed hummingbirds to feed relatively undisturbed on red flowers, but later studies (Chittka and Waser, 1997) have shown this not to be true.1 One thing is certain – hummingbirds do seem more attracted to red flower species – and red objects – more than any other color.
Aromatic Plants that Attract Hummingbirds
If you live in an area that hummingbird inhabit such as the south western United States, Central and South America, you may want to consider the following aromatic flower species to attract hummingbirds to your aromatic garden:
honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.)*
bee balm (Monarda spp.)*
flowering tobacco: Jasmine-scented nicotiana (Nicotiana alata).2,3
*plants used in aromatic and herbal remedies.
Learn More About Aromatic Plants with Sedona Aromatherapie
If you would like to learn more about aromatic plants, consider one of the Sedona Aromatherapie home study aromatherapy courses; to learn more, visit the courses home page.
Pub Med website: Why Are So Many Bird Flowers Red?: Miguel A Rodriguez-Girones and Luis Santamaria, accessed March 28, 2016
Mother Earth News Food and Garden Series: Guide to Growing Herbs, Spring 2016
USDA website: Jasmine Tobacco, accessed March 28, 2016
The Hummingbird Society website: Hummingbird Flowers, accessed March 28, 2016
Author is a UK-certified aromatherapist, published author in aromatherapy, an approved education provider for the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), an aromatherapy business owner, and Chief Editor for the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal.