From late February to April it’s bluebonnet season here in Texas. Nothing steals my breath faster than a field covered with Texas Bluebonnets. They’re simply breathtaking. Each spring folks load into cars and tour busses to go on see the bluebonnets in the Hill Country just like the people in the northeastern states take tours to view the spectacular fall foliage.
But although I’ve lived in Texas most of my life I found out some things I never knew that I’d like to share.
Bluebonnets are only found growing in their natural state in Texas and no other location in the world. That means they weren’t brought in from somewhere else by the early settlers. Bluebonnets are as well known as the shamrock is to Ireland and the cherry blossoms of Japan.
You may know that the bluebonnet is the state flower of Texas and has been since 1901. But did you know there are five different species and that choosing the state flower started a bitter dispute that wasn’t finally settled until 1971? Arguments ensued over which variety was going to be declared the proper state flower. The Texas Legislature finally settled the dispute by declaring that any and all varieties of the bluebonnet are the state flower. (The pink flower in the picture below is Indian Paintbrush.)
The “lupinus texensis” variety is the most common and the one most visitors see when they come to Texas. It has pointed leaflets and the flowering stalk is a breathtaking blue with a white tip. But less common ones grow in pink, rosy purple and royal blue and there’s even a solid white bluebonnet.
The profusion is dictated by the amount of rain and germination in the fall, long before they pop their heads out of the soil. In times of drought the amount of bluebonnets is considerably less. Although bluebonnets need heat to germinate the seed, cool weather is crucial to develop the complicated root structure.
Bluebonnets are very difficult to grow in gardens and pots. They cannot tolerate poorly drained, clay based soils. And they need lots of direct sunlight. Guess that’s one reason they grow so well here in Texas. We have oodles of sunshine.
Other common names for the flowers are buffalo clover, wolf flower and el conejo (Spanish for “the rabbit”.)
Usually found blooming amid patches of bluebonnets are Indian paintbrush, Indian blanket, and coreopsis.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not illegal to pick them. I hope you enjoyed this look at the bluebonnet. We’re very proud it chose this state in which to shower us with its beauty.