By Debbie Roland and Emmy Ulmschneider, Master Gardeners
Four-Nerve Daisy (Tetraneuris scaposa), a tough and drought tolerant plant, might be perfect for your flowerbeds. The genus name Tetraneuris is of Greek origin meaning four nerves and refers to the whitish to maroon veins visible on the underside of the ray petals. The species name, scaposa, in Latin, translates as stem and refers to the single stem which bears the flower making it easy to remember and identify the defining characteristics of this plant.
It is a low growing perennial which can reach up to 1’. A lone stem grows out of a leaf clump and yellow flower heads form at the end of these
stems. The leaves are long and narrow and a silver green color. Deadheading is a must for four-nerve daisy as the older flowers look bedraggled as the outer flowers whiten and start to bend down. So deadhead it often and profusely to keep it looking at its best.
This plant is native to the dry plains in a central swath from Mexico to Canada and bounded on the west by Arizona and the east by Texas. It grows in well-drained soil and full sun to light shade. It is perfect for borders in flowerbeds and as additions to perennial and rock gardens.
It grows slowly and needs very little water once established. Four-nerve daisy will naturalize in dry, rocky soil often growing where you least expect it.
As a single plant, four nerve daisy can be overlooked so plant it in groups to attract both humans and pollinators. Although the normal bloom period is from March to October, they often bloom right through the winter months. This means that they are often the only nectar source for any butterflies or bees that might be out and about in a warm spell.
In dry conditions, if you crush the leaves and carefully, take a whiff, you might be able to smell an unpleasant smelling resin, which under drought conditions can be toxic to sheep. However, humans once used the plant for a tea and chewing gum. The flower heads can also be used to make a yellow dye.
So, if you want a plant that will make you and pollinators smile all year, then this is the plant for you.
If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information. Additional information is available at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu and westtexasgardening.org.