Octopus Prime, a Reddit user, shared this photo of an unusual looking plant, and when they did, the internet began to freak out.
It’s a plant in someone’s hand, but it looks like an origami hummingbird.
Because the plant is so unusual looking — it’s definitely not something we see just walking down the streets in America — people were wondering what it was, where it came from, and why it was shaped like that.
Fellow Reddit user SolitaryBee came through with some answers for the rest of the community, thankfully.
To answer everyone’s question, the plant is known as the green flowerbird, or regal flowerbird. And if you want to get fancy, Crotalaria cunninghamii is its scientific name.
Along with chickpeas and alfalfa, it’s part of the legume family and is native to inland northern Australia, where it thrives along sandy dunes.
And here’s the funniest part: there’s actually no hummingbirds there. Guess the green flowerbird makes up for it, though!
SolitaryBee shared that its shape had nothing to do with an adaptive evolutionary development, which is something that many people believed at first.
“The fact that the flower looks like a bird to humans cannot have evolved adaptively because as a signal receiver, there is nothing humans could have done to increase the fitness of individuals that evolved this signal (to look like a bird),” the user who is a scientist commented.
“Unless indigenous Australians in arid Australia bred or traded the plant because it looks like a bird,” he continued.
Green flowerbird isn’t just a pretty sight though, it actually has healing properties and is a very useful resource, which is something indigenous Australians prize it for. It is actually medicinal — Aboriginal people use it in eyewash to treat infections.
So yeah, while Australians most definitely love the plant for its stunning and unique shape, it would be quite a waste if it stopped there. They also use it as a really helpful resource. It can offer more than just looks!
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Plants with funny names! Lets pay a tribute to these ‘winners’ that show similarities to other creatures or to human behaviour. This flower is called “green flowerbird”, obviously. The flowers look like origami hummingbirds, how cute is that? . . . 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. . . . Though we strive for functionality in our green designs, plants with good looks in our gardens are just as important. . . . #mossamsterdam #biophilia #biophilicdesign #green #plants #architecture #greenarchitecture #workspace #plantsmakepeoplehappy #sillynames #greenflowerbird #flowerbird #origami #hummingbird #urbanjunglebloggers #urbanjungle #healthyworkspace #purify #plantstagram #instaplant #leaves #design #greendesign #indoorjungle #flowers
And in regards to the green flowerbird’s shape, it’s actually thanks to a common anatomical trait of legumes. Many legumes have Papilionaceous flowers, which are characterized by irregular clusters of five petals and a larger upper petal known as a banner.
Darwin hypothesized that the unusual shape developed under the selective pressure of bee pollinators, but that does not mean that bees actually think they are pollinating a bird… Because if so, then the plant would have never even survived!
While it’s astonishingly similar to a flower, most humans would not mistake this plant for a bird, either.
When looking at the photo ourselves, we are actually experiencing simulacrum, which Google describes as “an image or representation of someone or something.”
Basically, it’s similar to the illusion we experience when looking at trompe-l’oeil paintings — our eyes are leading us to believe that we are looking at an object that is actually present, but it is not.
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Source: My Modern Met