Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’

These are photographs from the first week I started using a digital SLR camera, just over four years ago. The second one is cropped a bit more than I’d usually post to BPotD, but you get a bit more of a close-up of the hummingbird this way. I believe this is a female rufous hummingbird, Selasphorus rufus, as there seems to be some red-brownish colouration along her side. Hummingbirds can be spotted year-round at UBC Botanical Garden, as we have at least one resident Anna’s hummingbird who can be seen throughout the winter. These photographs, though, were taken in June when the migrant rufous hummingbirds join the mix in the garden.

Hummingbirds have a high rank in my list of favourite birds. I remember holding one as a child until it recovered well enough to fly away after hitting the kitchen window — as light as a coin. I also vaguely recall discovering an unused nest in the caragana hedge in front of the house, a sight only witnessed again several years ago when visiting the hummingbird house at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (but this time with mom in the nest).

The summer 2000 membership newsletter at Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden contains an excellent article on hummingbirds: Why Do Our Hummingbirds Hum?. It features far more than I could knowledgeably write about hummingbirds as pollinators, the co-evolution of hummingbirds and flower morphology, and hummingbird behaviour, so I highly recommend it.

As for the Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ in the photographs, it was previously featured on BPotD here: Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’, so do reread that entry for some information. I’ll only add that it has a classic hummingbird-pollinated flower: red and tubular.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer'
Crocosmia 'Lucifer'

17 responses to “Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’”

  1. J

    Fantastic words & photos of a plant that’s not so evil!

  2. Mary

    I live in Massachusetts. I love these plants around my water garden not only for their vivid red color, but they attract hummingbirds! Thanks for the great photos!

  3. Eric Simpson

    Gee, Daniel, are you doing a series on pollinators, or on plants I’ve had in my backyard? I had today’s plant in my yard when I was living in Eureka, CA, while attending Humboldt State University. Great photos, per usual.
    As for hummers, I couldn’t agree more. I get the biggest kick out of their territorial aggressiveness (bird wars!) – chasing each other around, as well as birds 10 or even 100 times their own size! When I’m hiking in Anza Borrego, they are sometimes the *only* wildlife I see, and more than once I’ve found one of their miniscule nests while clambering down from one of the ridgelines at Palm Canyon.

  4. Scott McGillivray

    I purchased one flowering Crocosmia from a garden centre in Kitsilano about 20 years ago as a result of seeing these in the ditches and gardens on the Oregon Coast. This one flower has expanded into several hundred planted in Vancouver, and Burnaby, as well in several pots in New Westminster, plant seems to thrive in sunshine with not to much water, ie. good drainage. Thanks for sharing the beutiful picture. Scott McGillivray

  5. Michael F

    “As for the Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ … it has a classic hummingbird-pollinated flower: red and tubular”
    Worth adding that since Crocosmia is from Africa, it is not originally pollinated by hummingbirds (which are confined to the Americas), but by sunbirds (Nectariniidae), an unrelated Old World family with similar adaptations to nectar feeding. It shows the strength of convergent evolution very nicely, that adaptation to sunbird pollination is so similar to adaptation to hummingbird pollination.

  6. Melanie Kinsey

    I grew Lucifer in my garden in southern Australia. It was visited by New Holland honeyeaters (Phylidonyris) and eastern spinebills (Acanthorhynchus). I say grew because the continuing drought/climate change weakened the plants to the point of not flowering and I pulled them out.

  7. Cyndy Henderson

    Ahhh, the rufous hummingbirds. Just returned from the Okanogan Highlands where we get a steady stream of them at the feeder. Such entertainment seeing them vie for “territorial” rights. And the “whir” sounds like mini helicopters! Thank you, Daniel!

  8. Loey

    Great photos and those blessed little hummers are such fun!! They have an established route in our garden: Lucifer crocosmia first, then to the monarda didyma then zing! over the house to the crocosmia (orange one) and finish at phygelius (devil’s tears) with a little chaser from the fuschia/verbenas in the hanging baskets. They MAKE MY SUMMER. And thanks for your ongoing photos and write ups, Daniel.

  9. Margaret-Rae Davis

    We grew Crocosmia’s in the Durfee Conservertory at the University of Massachusetts. What beautiful blossoms.
    I so enjoy the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds that summer here in Shelburne Falls Massachusetts. Thank you for the links and all the infro.
    Thanky you,

  10. Knox

    Beverley must be on vacation. I miss her advice on hardiness.

  11. alies

    Sorry I do not speak english ..for that situation I can´t make a comment..But I can do in spanish
    Excelentes fotos y muy buenos los textos al respecto Es un disfrute ,para mi,visitar esta pagina…por que ademas, aprendo muchisimo! Thank you for share …

  12. Denis Wilson

    Hi Daniel
    Crocosmias tend to be very weedy here in Australia. I rather wish we did not have them.
    However, lovely flowers, and as my fellow Aussie, Melanie has observed they attract Honeyeaters here, which fill the same role as Hummingbirds and Sunbirds, although not related to either group. (meliphagidae) A classic example of parallel evolution – I believe. Many of our Proteaceae in particular, (Waratahs, Grevilleas to name the best known genera) are red and tubular.

  13. Carol

    I have crocosmia Lucifer in my zone 4 garden in central maine and it has wintered well

  14. elizabeth a airhart

    the hummers are here in florida
    always a delight

  15. Flavia

    Nice pics today. Don’t know the flower, but the humming birds yes. We do have lots of them on our island of Trinidad in the West Indies. They visit my garden often too. It’s a joy to see them.

  16. Daniel Mosquin

    Brent Hine, curator of the E.H. Lohbrunner Alpine Garden, wanted to share how these particular plants were used in some recent research by Professor Gary D. Brayer in the UBC Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
    Apparently, Crocosmia contains a set of chemicals useful as oral agents in the control of blood-glucose levels in the treatment of diabetes and obesity. To read the abstract (or paper if you have access), see Tarling, CA, et al. 2008. The Search for Novel Human Pancreatic α-Amylase Inhibitors: High-Throughput Screening of Terrestrial and Marine Natural Product Extracts. ChemBioChem. 9:433-438.
    Professor Brayer wrote to Brent:
    “In the end I processed about 130 lbs of corms from your garden and my own plantings – putting together the protocols to isolate the active ingredient, montbretin A, from this quantity of raw material has presented a challenge. Nonetheless, we now appear to have it under control and worked our way through the first 20 lbs or so. The yield looks good and the initial trials as to montbretin A stability in the stomach and gut look exceptional. Ultimately we hope to isolate about 15 grams of montbretin A and then initiate rat tests as to its activity for indications of diabetes and obesity.”

  17. Ann H Young

    We live at 6,500 ft in the foothills of the Colorado Rocky Mountains and enjoy the hummers from mid April to late Sept.
    What a wonderful series on the pollinators.Thank you!
    Ann Young

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