AUSTIN (KXAN) — The blooming of Texas’ famous wildflowers is a highly-anticipated event, with many looking forward to the fields of blue every season. Over the past few weeks, a handful of KXAN viewers have reported seeing bluebonnets blooming earlier than past years. So when do we typically expect to see the vibrant “oceans of blue” every year? And where?
Timing of bluebonnets bloom
In a typical year, bluebonnets bloom in March through late April. It is certainly possible to have a few rogue blooms early or late in the season… but the blooms typically favor the warmer rain in March/April. Although the peak of season can vary year to year, it typically falls within early April.
Weather has a large influence on the timing of blooms, particularly if the weather pattern strays from what the plants know as “normal”. Warmer winter weather, like what we’ve seen this past winter, can cause an earlier than normal arrival of the blue flowers while cooler spring weather can cause a delay in the show.
IN-DEPTH: January 2020 was Camp Mabry’s 7th warmest January on record reporting no freezing temperatures over the entire 31-day span. Reaching back towards the start of winter, December 1st-January 31st was the 2nd warmest such period on record wit only one freeze.
Where to look for blooms?
Bluebonnets tend to thrive in environments where there is:
— plenty of sunshine
— little competition (minimal surrounding plants)
— degraded, well-drained soil (ex. grazed land, roadsides, recent burn scars)
Bluebonnets are native to Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma and Florida.
What’s in a name?
The bluebonnet was named for its color and the resemblance of its petals to a woman’s sunbonnet.
The state flower – all 6 of ’em!
Although the Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) is commonly known as Texas’ state flower – there are actually 6 different species, all referred to as “bluebonnets”, that also have the title. All six include:
— Lupinus havardii (Big Bend bluebonnet)
— Lupinus perenis (sundial lupine)
— Lupinus plattensis (Nebraska lupine)
— Lupinus subcarnosus (sandyland bluebonnet)
— Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet)
— Lupinus concinnus (bajada lupine)
*The Legislature amended the original statue declaring the Lupinus texensis the state flower of Texas to include “all varieties of bluebonnets” on March 8th 1971.
Is it illegal to pick bluebonnets?
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, there is no law prohibiting the picking of bluebonnets, although, it is highly discouraged by many. It can be prohibited in certain areas (ex. private property, Texas State Parks, etc.) so be sure to stay aware of surroundings and keep a look out for posted signage.
The dark side of bluebonnets
Unknown to many, bluebonnets can be toxic to humans and animals if ingested. The toxicity can vary depending on the plant’s parts, stage of growth and absorption of toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil.
For more information, visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website.