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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - July 22, 2009

From: Ithaca, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Wildlife Gardens
Title: Southwest US Winter-flowering Hummer Plants.
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Are there winter-flowering plants native to the American Southwest that are used as a food source by hummingbirds? I am a scientific illustrator working on an identification guide to common North American hummingbirds for Cornell's Lab of Ornithology. I want to include native plants but am having trouble finding winter flowering species. Thanks!

ANSWER:

There are no doubt quite a few winter-flowering native plants in the US Southwest utilized by overwintering hummingbirds.  However, it seems that hummers rely more on tiny insects and spiders during the winter than on flower nectar.  Here are a couple winter-flowering Southwest plant species that are favored by hummingbirds when in bloom:

Diplacus puniceus (red bush monkeyflower)

Arctostaphylos manzanita (whiteleaf manzanita)

 

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