Spring wildflowers are one of the best parts of Texas. A project of Lady Bird Johnson, Texans appreciate bluebonnet season nearly as much as fall football! Seeing a patch of wildflowers crop up along the highway signals the season of summer BBQs, trips to the lake, and the sunshine that is to come. But the wildflowers are also reminder of the Texas tradition, and how rooted it is in nature. Almost every Texas child has taken a photo among the bluebonnets, mine included! Whether you are a native Texan, or just passing through, do not miss out on the stunning blooms. Wildflower season is a magical time of year.
What to see
There are over 5,000 species of flowering plants in Texas, so I should not/could not talk about them all. However, there are a few big names in Texas wildflowers that are not only renown, but literally turn heads as one drives down highways and dirt roads.
The vibrant orange of the Indian Paintbrush is one of the most distinct of Texas wildflowers. It has always made me marvel at the vibrancy of nature, and how being a little funky comes naturally in Texas (#KeepAustinWeird).
Another bright-hued flower is the Mexican Hat. Its reds, yellows, and browns offer a deeply saturated colorscape, one I am tempted to explore in my own garden palette. It lives up to its name—it does indeed look like a hat.
The Texas Thistle is hard to miss. The neon purple flower is prickly and vibrant and stands out in a field. They are, fortunately, fairly common as far as wildflowers go, and a great source of nectar and pollen. The bees love it, and so do Texans.
Of course, the bluebonnet is the star of the show. There is a reason our state flower (No, it’s not the yellow rose!) seems known far beyond Texas: it is delicate and captivating. As a native Texan, seeing bluebonnets never gets old. We try to take annual bluebonnet pictures as a family, and they’ve definitely made our Christmas cards in years past!
Where to see them
There are ten ecoregions in Texas, and wildflowers can be found throughout them all. Dallas is in the Blackland Prairies, where bluebonnets and bluebells sprout up along highways and in parks throughout the spring. While the Hill Country and North Texas get a lot of attention when it comes to wildflowers, East and West Texas bring their floral “A” game as well, with sea lavender and prickly pear along the coast, and sunflowers and poppies to the west.
A great way to see what is in bloom is taking a Texas Wildflower Road Trip. There are many suggested routes throughout the state, charted by experts in wildflower preservation. In North Texas, Ennis’s Bluebonnet Trail is always heavenly. Next time we venture down to the Hill Country, we hope to drive through Fredericksburg and stop at Wildseed Farms, which has a garden center and walking trails through their wildflower fields. If you find yourself in Dallas, you can’t miss out on the natural prairies at the Laura W. Bush Native Texas Park outside the Bush Center. This area reflects their love of the Texas landscape and consists of various Texas landscapes.
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is another bucket list destination. Founded by our former First Lady, this botanical garden in Austin is simply stunning. Lady Bird’s passion for wildflower conservation has left a lasting impact through this center. Now I know this is a place I can brings the kids where they can learn about the natural history of our state. The Wildflower Center will be hosting free Nature Nights throughout June for families to explore the plants, animals and ecology of Texas. It is also a great option if you want to see wildflowers without the hunt along highways.
What to know
It is a widely said that picking bluebonnets is illegal in Texas. Luckily, this whisper of unlawful picking is just a rumor! The Texas Department of Public Safety has even confirmed that it is but a tall Texas tale. However, even though we can pick bluebonnets and other wildflowers with no criminal repercussions, it is important to think twice about our environmental and safety implications before we begin frolicking.
While picking the flowers is not illegal, it is still important to adhere to traffic laws and respect the boundaries of private property while exploring the wildflowers. The DPS offers the following tips to keep in mind during your floral excursions:
- Signal before leaving or entering the roadway.
- Park off the roadway (off of improved shoulders), parallel to the road in the direction of traffic.
- Don’t cross lanes of traffic on foot to get to the flowers.
- Obey signs that prohibit parking on a particular stretch of roadway.
- Remember that failure to follow the rules of the road any time of the year could result in a ticket.
There are more ecologically meaningful reasons to maintain a sense of propriety, and perhaps hold off on a wildflower picking extravaganza. My biggest motivation to not pick the flowers is so they can continue to bloom for future generations. If we leave the flowers alone, they are able to germinate for the following year. However, if we over-pick these beauties, we risk depleting the fields and impacting the plant in the long-term. One Texas wildflower is currently being considered for Endangered Species status, which should remind us we need to be careful about picking them too often. If we are respectful of the wildflower fields when exploring and taking photos, ideally they will flourish for generations to come.
Keeping all these tips in mind, we’d love for you to use our Wildflower Bingo card during this year’s bloom, on a roadtrip or just around your regular routes! Be sure to tag @lolliandme on Instagram and Facebook, and share with us your wild discoveries!!
Wildflowers at Home
Florals have long been a source of inspiration in home décor. When my family was approached with an opportunity to work with acclaimed porcelain and home accessories designer, Anna Weatherley, we knew we wanted to commission a collection that reflected the natural beauty of Texas. Through this collaboration and the artistry of talented Hungarian painters, the Texas Wildflowers Collection was born (As a private family commission, we are sad to say it is not for sale)! Anna’s talent is undeniable! She has also designed collections of porcelain china for the White House, commissioned by First Lady Laura Bush and, of course, Ladybird Johnson. Our Texas Wildflowers Collection is a testament to the many wildflowers of our great state and will be an heirloom for generations. There are so many ways to bring the charm of wildflowers into the home without picking them. Check out some of these statement-making pieces of wildflower décor: