Common name: Bluestar
Amsonia tabernaemontana is named for the delicate star-shaped flowers that grow in loose clusters atop its 1 m/3 ft stems. A native to southeastern USA and the Midwest, this spring flowering perennial is also known as willow amsonia, woodland bluestar or blue dogbane.
Hummingbirds and large carpenter bees, and some species of moths and butterflies seek out its blue flowers looking for nectar. One species of butterfly larvae, the coral hairstreak butterfly caterpillar, feeds on its leaves. Research is being done on the importance of native plants that butterflies and moths munch on in their larvae state. This research is called ‘keystone plants’ since the food chain would suffer without these natives. The ecosystem collapses in a similar way that the removal of the ‘key’ stone in an ancient Roman arch will trigger its demise.
It is good to know that bluestar is adaptable. Bluestar can grow in sun or shade and isn’t fussy about soil. And the color blue of its flowers gives this native wildflower the edge on pollination. More about this plant. Bluestar’s genus name is in honour of 18th-century Virginian physician Dr. Charles Amson. Its specific epithet honours Jakob Theodor von Bergzabern who Latinized his name as Tabernaemontanus.
Text and photos by Hughie - photos were taken by the Floating Bridge in bed 27 in May, 2022.