Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

Hummingbirds and lantern trees

Posted: July 29, 2020 at 17:13 pm

One of the best known ornamental flowering woody plants, native to Chile, is the Chilean lantern tree (Crinodendron hookerianum).

Chilean lantern tree

This plant relies on pollination by hummingbirds and has adapted to this. The red pendant flowers hang at the end of long peduncles (stalks) keeping them away from the stems and foliage, and allowing better access for the birds. Flowers are also narrow-mouthed and then shape resembles a Chinese lantern, just shaped for the needle-like beaks of hummingbirds.

Keep an eye out for our tree 311429 - it is a pink flowering form of the normally red flowering lantern tree. It is called Crinodendron hookerianum 'Ada Hoffman' and can be found in the wild.
Find where this tree grows at Westonbirt by using Arboretum Explorer

Hummingbirds feed on lantern trees in the wild

The red petals are somewhat waxy and thickset so that they can withstand the energetic activity of birds feeding on nectar and pollinating the flowers. The hummingbirds also scatter pollen, which is unusually dry and sticks to the birds head, which is then transferred to other flowers the bird visits. Flowers appear in May and can be found almost all year round.

Read about April's tree of the month which also originated in Chile...