The last two springs have been bone dry in the central part of the sovereign State of Texas hence our Texas Bluebonnets, Lupinus texensis, haven’t produced a wild crop, but hooray, after our record rains of the past twelve months, they are back this year! So are our Indian paintbrushes and wild yellow sunflowers.
Lady Bird Johnson was LBJ’s First Lady and on her return to Texas after his last term as President, she started something that has become a tradition in our State. She persuaded the State Government to seed bluebonnets and other wildflowers along the highways. Every spring the flowers return as a legacy of the First Lady, but, the really “wild” bluebonnets and other flowers are wherever you find them away from the roads.
Right across from my place, one of my neighbors has a few wild, bluebonnets.
In 1901 the bluebonnet variety, Lupinus subcarnosus, also known as buffalo clover, was recognized as the state flower of Texas. However, Lupinus texensis, Texas bluebonnet, emerged as the favorite of most Texans. As a result of this popularity, in 1971 the Texas Legislature made all the species of bluebonnet the State flower. However, our Lupinus texensis remains dear to all Texan’s hearts.
Another interesting fact about our Texas bluebonnets is that in the wild they are almost exclusively blue. A random genetic mutation can occasionally create an albino, white bluebonnet. Texas A&M University researchers were successful in breeding red and white strains, creating a Texas state flag in bluebonnets for the 1986 Texas Sesquicentennial. Further research led to a deep maroon strain, the university’s official color. Good ole Aggies!