Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Backyard Nature Wednesday: Duranta erecta (Golden dewdrop)

Duranta erecta, popularly known as golden dewdrop plant, is a sprawling, tender evergreen shrub that can grow quite large. Some have reached tree-size as tall as 18 feet. The plant grows almost as wide as its height. It forms multi-stemmed clumps with branches that droop and trail. In addition, some of the bushes can get quite spiny, although some others develop no spines at all.

My shrubs - I have three - are still fairly young and they are three to four feet tall and still growing both vertically and horizontally. They've been covered in these showy flowers this summer. The flowers develop on racemes of up to six inches long. The individual flowers are tubular shaped and have five petals. They can be light blue to purple. There is also a white cultivar, but all of mine are blue or purple.

After a long period of bloom, the flowers fade and the golden berries that give the plant its popular name develop. These berries are devoured by several species of birds in fall and into winter - if they last that long.

But while the blooms last, the shrubs are visited daily by a variety of butterflies. Members of the swallowtail family, like the Tiger Swallowtail seen here, seem to particularly favor these blossoms.


It's not unusual for me to find several of the butterflies visiting the shrubs at the same time. Here are two Giant Swallowtails on the left and another Tiger Swallowtail on the right.

Golden dewdrop is not native to North America. It is found in Nature in the scrub and open woodlands in the West Indies and in Central to South America. It has been introduced to several areas along the Gulf Coast of the United States and has naturalized in parts of the Florida Keys and South Texas.

It is an easy plant to grow, at least in the environment of Southeast Texas, which must be not so different from some of the places where it is native. It requires practically zero care, except occasional pruning to keep it in shape, and it will appreciate a drink if it is a long time between rains. It does best in full sun but will also tolerate partial shade. If we get a cold winter when the temperature actually goes below freezing, then the shrub can die back to the ground, but it generally will come back in the spring.

I grow it with a number of other butterfly and hummingbird favorites, including Hamelia patens (hummingbird bush or Mexican firebush), Odontonema strictum (firespike), and Tecomaria capensis (Cape honesuckle), all staples of my habitat garden.

6 comments:

  1. Wow - what a lovely addition to the garden!

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    1. It is a very useful plant for habitat gardens as it will attract many different types of wildlife.

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  2. Lovely blooms that attract beautiful wildlife...Can't go wrong with that! :-)

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  3. A beautiful plant. I am partial to blue flowers but I also love those yellow berries. I would bet it is not humid enough for it here. The butterflies are so awesome.

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    1. It thrives in zones 9-11 and can survive pretty well in zone 8. It does seem to enjoy the humidity.

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