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Milberger's Nursery and Landscaping
3920 North Loop 1604 E.
San Antonio, TX 78247

Open 9 to 6 Mon. through Sat.
and 10 to 5 on Sun.

Three exits east of 281, inside of 1604
Next to the Diamond Shamrock station
Please click map for more detailed map and driving directions.

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Thomas Drummond
Contributed by Cynthia Mueller (, College Station, Texas

Thomas Drummond was one of the first plant collectors to explore Texas. Little is known of his early life in Scotland. Records show he had a nursery in Forfar by 1814, was curator of the Belfast Botanic Garden, and was considered an authority on Scottish mosses. He accompanied a natural history collecting expedition to Canada in 1825 which followed along the Hudson Bay Company express route and endured months of deprivation, isolation and physical hardship along the way - once being reduced to eating a skunk to keep full, or strips of frozen deerhide.

This expedition prepared Drummond to survive in Texas, which he reached in 1833, slowly making his way there after reaching New York in 1831. He brought with him two tons of paper in which to preserve his specimens, and found some of Texas' most beautiful plants such as Phlox drummondii, which was enthusiastically grown in England and Europe and soon was improved into several color strains, the foxglove penstemon Penstemon cobaea, Herbertia (Alophia) drummondii, the bluebell Eustoma russellianum, the wine-cup Callirhoe papaver, and Sarracenia psittacina. Other Texas plants which bring Drummond's name to mind are the edible wild onion Allium drummondii, sandwort Arenaria drummondii, the square-bud day-primrose Calyophus drummondianus, Clematis drummondii, the rainlily Cooperia drummondii, the primrose Oenothera drummondii, skullcap Scutellaria drummondii, Schoenocaulon drummondii, and Stachys drummondii.

The conditions Drummond endured on his collecting trips through Texas seem incredible by modern standards. Having made arrangements to go to Galveston, Texas by sea, he was struck down by cholera while staying in a small town consisting of only four houses - his captain and eight others died, and the survivors were so weak that Drummond almost starved to death before he recovered. He packed up and sent off about a hundred species each of plants and birds, and snakes, land-shells and seeds, and then returned by boat to Brazoria, Texas across flooded coastal prairie areas from 9 to 15 feet under water. In the autumn he returned to the Texas coast to winter on Galveston Bay, where he again almost starved while waiting for migrating birds to pass through. His health failed and he endured 'bilious fevers', boils, hand infections and ulcers on his legs, but was determined to sail to Cuba to collect and then travel to Key West and through the rest of Florida. What happened then still remains a mystery. Sir Joseph Hooker, who had been receiving many of Drummond's specimens, was sent three boxes containing Drummond's scanty personal possessions, followed by a letter from the American counsel in Havana, Cuba enclosing his death certificate. The letter referred to particulars given in an earlier letter, which was never received, so the exact fate of Thomas Drummond has never been known.

Thomas Drummond (died 1835) was the brother of James Drummond (1784-1863) who spent the majority of his life plant collecting in Australia, and was well known in his own right and commemorated by a number of plant names. He was accompanied for 22 years of that time by his son John, who was found stabbed to death with a native spear while sleeping. The identity of John's murderer was never discovered.

Further information about Drummond can be found in Alice Coat's The Quest For Plants, 1969, Studio Vista Ltd, London, England.