By: Jenna Haden
Texas bluebonnet, Bluebonnet, Texas lupine, Buffalo clover, Wolf-flower
Here is my favorite quote by historian Jack Maguire so aptly wrote, “It’s not only the state flower but also a kind of floral trademark almost as well known to outsiders as cowboy boots and the Stetson hat.”
Bluebonnets have been loved since man first trod the vast prairies of Texas. Indians wove fascinating folk tales around them. The early-day Spanish priests gathered the seeds and grew them around their missions. This practice gave rise to the myth that the padres had brought the plant from Spain, but this cannot be true since the two predominant species of bluebonnets are found growing naturally only in Texas and at no other location in the world.
As our state flower, bluebonnets have a most interesting history. Texas actually has five state flowers, more or less, and they are all bluebonnets and it was passed into law on March 7 without any recorded opposition.
Lupinus subcarnosus- the original champion and still co-holder of the title, grows naturally in deep sandy loams from Leon County southwest to LaSalle County and down to the northern part of Hidalgo County in the Valley. It is often referred to as the sandy land bluebonnet. The plant’s leaflets are blunt, sometimes notched with silky undersides. This species, which reaches peak bloom in late March, is not easy to maintain in clay soils.
Lupinus texensis- the favorite of tourists and artists, provides the blue spring carpet of Central Texas. It is widely known as THE Texas bluebonnet. It has pointed leaflets, the flowering stalk is tipped with white and hits its peak bloom in late March and early April. It is the easiest of all the species to grow.
Lupinus Havardii- also known as the Big Bend or Chisos Bluebonnet, is the most majestic of the Texas bluebonnet family with flowering spikes up to three feet. It is found on the flats of the Big Bend country in early spring, usually has seven leaflets and is difficult to cultivate outside its natural habitat.
Lupinus concinnus-is an inconspicuous little plant, from 2 to 7 inches, with flowers which combine elements of white, rosy purple and lavender. Commonly known as the annual lupine, blooming in early spring.
Lupinus plattensis- sneaks down from the north into the Texas Panhandle’s sandy dunes. It is the only perennial species in the state and grows to about two feet tall. It normally blooms in mid to late spring and is also known as the dune bluebonnet.
Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: Propagate by sowing seed or planting seedlings in fall.
Seed Collection: Allow the bluebonnet to reseed itself by leaving the seed pods intact on the plant until they turn from yellow to brown.
Seed Treatment: Scarification will hasten germination. Put seeds in the freezer overnight and then douse with boiling water to crack seed coats. Soaking seeds overnight is also effective. Drain water, add rhizobium, and plant.
Commercially Avail: yes
Bloom Color: White , Blue
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May
Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Limestone/chalky, Sandy Loam, Limestone-based, Calcareous, Sandy, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Caliche
Conditions Comments: Not only does the state flower of Texas bloom oceans of blue, but this famous wildflower forms attractive rosettes in winter. This is the species often used by highway departments and garden clubs.