Wildflowers are Big in Texas
Each year, spring slams into Texas with all the subtlety of a meteor, and bright swathes of red, blue, purple and yellow wildflowers bloom alongside the highways.
Bluebonnets are the Texas state flower
While those living elsewhere are often oblivious to their state’s flower, it’s a rare Texan who does not know that the Bluebonnet is the Lone Star State’s official blossom. In fact, it’s become a Texan tradition to dress in your Sunday best, park along the shoulder of a road, and take photos of your loved ones surrounded by wildflowers.
Lady Bird’s Bill
Lady Bird Johnson’s motto, “where flowers bloom, so does hope,” is very apparent here in Texas. In fact, the Highway Beautification Act of 1965 was nicknamed “Lady Bird’s Bill.”
What, at the time, was meant as a snarky jab at her influence over the president, has morphed into respect for her appreciation of nature. To this day, travelers have her to thank for the colorful flowers flanking Texan roadsides each spring.
Will the Real Bluebonnet Please Stand Up?
Some confusion arises, however, over which exact flower is the official Texan bluebonnet. Should one, when pressed for particulars, say Lupinus subcarnosus, or should one go with the more regional sounding Lupinus texensis?
As it turns out, the Texan legislature declared 5 different members of the lupine family to be its official state flower.
How’s that for diplomacy?
Why is Bastard Cabbage the Bluebonnet’s Enemy?
Sadly, Texans are seeing less and less of their beloved bluebonnets each spring because an invasive weed, called Rapistrum rugosum, is sweeping across the state.
This pretty yellow flower, known informally as Bastard Cabbage germinates early, then chokes out other flowers such as Indian Paintbrush and bluebonnets.
According to this 2012 news story, Bluebonnet Killer Grows Free, Bastard Cabbage will soon be in north Texas. I hate to say it, but it is already here. I’ve been seeing huge splashes of it all along Jacksboro Highway this week. Oh well!
A good way to learn the names of all sorts of flowers is to visit the Dallas Arboretum. Their lush gardens are open daily and plants are clearly labeled so you can find out what they are called. (If it rains during your visit, be sure to request a rain check, so you may return for a free visit during better weather.)
Best Bluebonnet Sightings
To get the full effect of Texan wildflowers, however, you really need to go for a drive. Since even the best GPS can’t tell you where the blooms are, check out Wildflower Havento find out and plan your jaunt for optimal viewing.
Big sneezes in Texas?
Of course, where flowers bloom, allergy medicine sales also soar. While I’m one of the lucky ones who isn’t sneezing, the pollen count in the Dallas – Fort Worth area of Texas is often the highest in the nation. (You can easily check out the pollen count where you live by doing a search with your ZIP Code over at Pollen.com)
A to Z blogging challenge
This was my post for the letter B of the A to Z blogging challenge. Tune in tomorrow to see what the letter C will bring.
In the meantime, click on this link to find out what other A to Z blogging challenge posts have to say.