The bluebonnet is to Texas what the shamrock is to Ireland, the cherry blossom to Japan, the lily to France, the rose to England and the tulip to Holland. — Jack Maguire, journalist, Texas historian
In Texas, you know it’s Spring when you spot the first bluebonnet, and taking a drive “to see the bluebonnets” is a long standing tradition.
Proclaimed the state flower by the Texas Legislature in 1901 (beating out the cotton boll and cactus), law makers soon realized there are actually five species of bluebonnet and the particular species adopted as the Texas state flower (Lupinus subcarnosus) was not as “showy and boldly blue” as another species (Lupinus texensis). A 70 year bluebonnet war was endured, resulting in a 1971 political compromise that declared the state flower to be “any similar species of Lupinus that could be found in Texas”. There have been no further conflicts regarding the Texas state flower.
Bluebonnets start to bloom in March, and peak season is normally first two weeks of April.
Best bet for roadside bluebonnet viewing* are these routes:
DeWitt County – The Wildflower Capitol of Texas
Ennis — The Bluebonnet Trail of Texas
Texas Hill Country – The back roads from Austin & San Antonio; Texas Highway 71 near Llano, the Willow City Loop outside Fredericksburg is popular route
Washington County – About 70 miles NW of Houston along 290 ⇒ Wildflower Watch
East Texas – US 287 between Crockett and Corrigan, bordering the Davy Crockett National Forest; or Park Road 40 in Huntsville State Park
* Don’t Pick or Trample the Bluebonnets. The Texas Department of Transportation discourages picture-taking that damages flowers along highways and roadsides. “If too many wildflowers are trampled, they will die and not go to seed. Since many of these flowers are annuals, this means they have to go to seed to come back the next year. Naturally, we discourage picking the flowers for the same reason.” (Note: Exceptions are made for Longhorns) Also, look out for dangerous, biting critters (such as fire ants) and poison ivy before stepping into any field of bluebonnets.
Texas State Parks also offer good bluebonnet viewing:
LBJ State Park
Inks Lake State Park
Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historical Site
Dinosaur Valley State Park
Meridian State Park
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
Choke Canyon State Park
Big Bend National Park
Bluebonnet Festival, Burnet, Texas. There are activities for everyone at this big small town festival – live music, food, carnival and birding and wildflower show.
Bluebonnet Photography Workshops and Bluebonnet Tours (March-April), Jason Weingart Photography
Texas Bluebonnets – Texas Pride by Jerry M. Parsons, Steve George and Greg Grant (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension)
Bluebonnet Facts, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
“Honey, Stop the Car”, Guide to Wildflower Drives Across Texas by Amy Voorhes (April 5, 2016)
Texas Department of Transportation – Wildflower Program
Spring Flowers & Poetry – The Flowers video by Jamie Scott captures Spring in bloom using time-lapse photography. It’s
fascinating to watch.
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Feature photo of bluebonnet field is courtesy of Nagaraju Gajula/Pexels CC0