With the Texan spring comes many delightful things; long warm days, inviting weather, barbeques, and crawfish boils are springtime characteristics of this drawl southern state. Another notable emergence for which Texas is famed is the state's signature bluebonnets, which are commonly seen covering highways and fields with their striking color.

This vibrant flower marks new beginnings as the transition from winter to spring arrives, and when Texan families get their beloved family photos nestled in a beautiful field full of them. Most outsiders don't know much about this lovely species of plant, nor why Texans hold them dear to their hearts - so for those interested, here's all one needs to know about this enticing flora that takes center stage every spring in Texas.

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What Are Bluebonnets?

“Bluebonnet” is the blanket name for several species of lupines, including the Lupinus texensis (Texas Bluebonnet), Lupinus havardii (Big Bend Bluebonnet), Lupinus subcarnosus (Sandyland Bluebonnet), Lupinus plattensis (Dune Bluebonnet), and Lupinus concinnus (Annual Lupine), all which when combined make up the "state flower of Texas”.

Many people think of cacti and cotton balls when picturing Texas, and such species could easily have been the state flower if it weren't for the efforts of a group of women who fought men in power at the time to have the bluebonnet officialized as the Texan state flower.

The History Of The Bluebonnet

Way before European settlers arrived in the Texas Hill Country, Native American communities believed bluebonnets were a gift from the Great Spirit. But it wasn't until 1901 that the flower officially became the Texan state flower, beating the prickly pear cactus and the cotton boll to such a prestigious position. But the species' victory wasn't automatic nor a simple task - in fact, the bluebonnet was awarded its status thanks to the rallying of the ladies of the National Society of Colonial Dames of America.

These women battled against male lawmakers in favor of the Lupinus subcarnosus - also known as the "buffalo clover" at the time - which they believed was a more authentic, beautiful representation of Texas than the men's questionable suggestions. The legislation further changed in 1971 to recognize all Lupinus species as the official Texas state flower, and now there are six bluebonnet species included under the title "the state flower of Texas".

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Where Do Bluebonnets Grow?

The bluebonnet is a wildflower that likes to inhabit degraded soil under the sun, and many of them seen throughout the state of Texas and its picturesque towns are both natural and planted. It thrives exceptionally well and doesn't have much competition with other plants.

The species does need plenty of sun and good rains during fall and winter in order to bloom in spring, but nevertheless, they're fairly robust and can even survive cold weather - which unlike many species doesn't appear to deter them. Due to the kind of soil these flowers thrive in, they often grow in large, heavily grazed fields, and on land that has suffered fires, or has been mowed - like that found by the roadside.

When Is Bluebonnet Season?

Peak bluebonnet season typically takes place in early April, however, it can be tricky to predict exactly when they bloom as this can vary from year to year. Variations in weather, temperature, climate and other discrepancies can influence when they bloom - and even where they appear.

The species germinates in fall, followed by their rosettes growing during winter. The intensity and timing of fall and winter rain affect the bluebonnets' germination and blooming patterns and can make all the difference between an abundant bloom, or a minimal one. By late winter and early spring, the rosettes grow further and begin to blossom, while chillier spring temperatures slow them down, or warmer degrees speed them up.

According to usual patterns, bluebonnets normally bloom in the “bluebonnet belt” of Central and East Texas come the end of March, and continue to flourish into late April. As a general rule of thumb, if it's early April, it's very likely that there'll be bluebonnets in bloom near any given location. There are occasionally a few anomaly patches of bluebonnets spotted blossoming at other times of the year, but this is quite rare to see. However, visitors to Texas outside of the bluebonnet season need worry not, for there is no lack of other stunning wildflowers decorating the landscapes all year that are equally as breathtaking.

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Safety Tips For Getting The Perfect Bluebonnet Photos

Many people believe it's illegal to pick bluebonnets, however, the state flower doesn't actually have any special protection. Still, even with that being said, it's important to be respectful of the species, and leave them be so that others may also enjoy them - with photography being a popular way to appreciate these vibrant, stunning little flowers. With this in mind, there are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure getting one's springtime bluebonnet photos is as safe, respectful, and enjoyable as possible.

  • Bluebonnets are toxic to humans and animals, which means it's vital to keep kids and pets from putting the plants in their mouths.
  • Consider using Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s bluebonnet areas, which are strategically placed stands installed to offer a safe spot for bluebonnet fans to take photos away from traffic.
  • Keep an eye out for bees, especially if anyone in the party is allergic to insect bites or stings.
  • Whilst it's not illegal to pick bluebonnets, it is against the law to damage someone else's property - so please be mindful and respectful of the land and any structures when taking bluebonnet pics.
  • Leave the flowers in the condition they were found - many people also wish to take photos of them and enjoy the scenery.
  • Drive carefully and thoughtfully when scoping out bluebonnets and parking up to take photos. Be sure to park legally without leaving the vehicle in an unsafe place, and re-enter traffic again carefully.
  • Use safe walkways when hunting for bluebonnets and snapping photos - it's illegal in Texas to walk along the highway shoulder and on the highway itself.

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