Courtesy Janice Lynn | Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
FLORA: NATIVE POLLINATOR PLANTS
Drummond’s December Blooms
Flowers in December are a welcome sight, especially if you’re a bee or butterfly searching for nectar and pollen. Drummond’s aster, a member of the sunflower family, can be seen blooming into the new year from Dallas-Fort Worth south.
This fantastic pollinator plant — the last installment of our 2020 series of native pollinators — typically grows in forest understory or along woodland edges. The Latin name of Symphyotrichum drummondii comes from Greek roots meaning “growing together” and “hair.” Other common names include blue wood aster and hairy heart-leaf aster.
Thomas Drummond (1790-1835), for whom the flower is named, was a Scottish naturalist who came here in 1830 to collect specimens from the western and southern United States. A few years later, he began collecting at Velasco in Texas. He spent 21 months working the area between Galveston Island and the Edwards Plateau along the Brazos, Colorado and Guadalupe rivers.
His Texas collections — 750 species of plants and 150 specimens of birds — were the first extensively distributed among the museums and scientific institutions of the world. Drummond died in Cuba in 1835, before accomplishing his dream of making a complete botanical survey of Texas. Many plants bear his name.
Stems of Drummond’s aster grow 3 to 4 feet tall and can topple when top-heavy with flowers. Each flowerhead is about a half-inch across, consisting of 10-15 ray florets that surround 10-15 congested disk florets. Look for lavender or light violet (less often, white) petals.
After the bloom fades, the florets are replaced by achenes with small tufts of white hair that can be distributed by the wind.
This Texas native is usually easy to cultivate under partial sun, with soil containing loam, clay-loam or some rocky material.