Hummingbirds are nectarivores that have coevolved with ornithophilous flowers, i.e., bird loving flowers that attract them primarily by colour and additionally by odour. The flowers' nectar satisfies the birds' diet, along with a smattering of protein from small insects. The Hummingbirds of Trinidad and Tobago, belonging to the Trochilinae family, prefer the flowers of dicotyledonous (with two cotyledons—embryonic leaves—in the seed.) plant species. The other family of hummingbirds, Phaethornithinae, prefers monocotyledonous (with a single cotyledon—embryonic leaf—in the seed) herbs.
Hummingbirds are attracted by the colour of the flowers, particularly red. Their bills are shaped, typically, proportionally long and decurved or curved, to access nectar in the flowers blossoms. They provide a service to the flowers by pollinating them when accessing the nectar. Below are some tropical flowers preferred by hummingbirds:
|Aeschynanthus speciosus (Lipstick Flower)|
This epiphyte plant, which grows in the angles of branches of rainforest trees, has hard-surfaced, shiny leaves, with bright-red flowers emanating from dark-red, tubular calyx, very much like lipstick propelled from its tube.
|Costus barbatus (Spiral Ginger)|
Yellow flowers and a long, glossy-red inflorescence with red, spiral-arranged leaves. Plants grow up to nine feet tall with large, green leaves. This plant’s flower is a favorite of the hummingbird.
|Heliconia bihai (Balisier)|
Light to dark-red bracts with yellow edge and a green top—pollination accomplished by hummingbirds and bats. The plant grows erect up to 12 feet with up to five leaves shaped like the head of a lance—a source of rain water for birds and insects.
An herbaceous, perennial plant with banana-like leaves, 65-160cm by 18-36cm, of the tropical Americas that grows to 2–3m. Yellow, red or yellow-red, eye-catching bracts stand erect from the uppermost of high stems, each one spirally oriented in different directions. It is pollinated by hummingbirds.
An herbaceous, perennial plant with banana-like leaves from South America. It produces flowers enclosed in bracts, red with yellow tips which hang and point downwards.
Produces erect inflorescences that are enclosed by bracts with yellow to orange and yellow margins; individual heliconia flowers are 3-parted with three green sepals, three yellow petals, six stamens and an ovary in three parts. The plant grows 1.2–3 meters high with long leaf stalks that look like banana leaves.
Generates colourful inflorescences with bright and shiny, red-orange bracts edged in yellow with flowers that are stiff-green and white-tipped sepals that protrude the bracts. It is a lobster claw heliconia, slightly spiraled base and cheek with narrow maroon-green margins on upper lip and tip—3 to 5 inches. The plant has banana like foliage with waxy-white coating on stems and lower midrib.
Erect inflorescences, 5 to 12 spiral bracts; yellow with pale green keel and tip, some have green-yellow or yellow with red lips and tips; sepals yellow with pale green tip; ovary green, darkest on distal half; pedicel green; and foliage 2.7 to 3.6 meters (9 to 12 feet).
Ixora coccinea produces, all year round, bright coloured (mainly orange, yellow and pink or red), flat-topped, composite flowers of many smaller tubular florets. It is a multi-branched perennial shrub that grows to 1.2–2m tall and has dark green oblong leaves. It is native to the Indian sub-continent.
|Stachytarpheta jamaicensis (Vervine or Blue Porterweed)|
A perennial shrub, woody towards the base, that produces blue or pink flowers nearer the end of stretched, sinuous spikes. With dark-green foliage it grows to four feet tall and six feet wide. A native to tropical zones, it is attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies.