The Texas state flower is the Bluebonnet. Its name is derived from the color of the flower’s petals and its resemblance to a sunbonnet worn by women. Scientically called Lupinus texensis, this native plant of Texas, is also called the buffalo clover, wolf flower, and el conejo, which is Spanish for “the rabbit.” This flower can be found throughout central and southern Texas. Although the Bluebonnet is the official Texas state flower, there are five species of the Bluebonnet that are also considered the Texas state flower.
In 1901, the Texas Legislature adopted the blue-petaled plant as the official state flower. For the moment, only the Lupinus subcarnosus, also a native to the state, was considered the state’s flower. After 70 years of an indefinite battle, a decision was made to add more of the Lupinus species. The Texas Legislature in 1971 added an additional 2 species to be considered the Texas state flower. They also provided a provision to “any other variety of bluebonnet not heretofore recorded.” Eventually, the numbers of species to be considered a bluebonnet has risen to five. They include the following: L. subcarnosus, L. texensis, L. concinnus, L. plattensis and L. havardii. To this day the Lupinus Texensis is still far and above the favorite of many Texans.
One Texan in particular was responsible for the planting of hundreds of bluebonnet seeds: Lady Bird Johnson. The wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson, returned to Texas in 1968 , she persuaded the state government to plant more bluebonnets throughout the state. Soon, stretching for miles along the roadsides of highways in the State of Texas, wildflowers and bluebonnets dominated the landscape. Now every spring, usually between mid-March to mid-May, when the flowers return and are in full bloom, the beauty of Lady Bird Johnson’s wishes can be seen throughout her state.
Normally, exclusively seen in blue, the Texas State Flower can also be spotted on occasion in an albino white tone. This is due to a genetic mutation of the plant’s genes. In 1986, as part of a research study completed at Texas A&M University, researchers attempted to create a bluebonnet with red and white strains, to resemble the Texas state flag. As part of the celebration for the Texas Sesquicentennial, researchers at the university were successful in their creation. Further experimentation on the color of the Lupinus Texensis created a dark maroon strain. This unique discovery would eventually become the university’s official color known as Lupinus Argenteus.
An extremely resilient plant, the Lupinus texensis grows through out the Southwest including California, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. During the autumn and winter months, when the air is cold and the ground hardens, the Texas State Flower continues to survive. The naturally-forming nitrogen in the roots of the plant provides an important nutrient used in maintaining the fertility of the soil. Due to the bluebonnets found throughout the state, much of the Texan soil the flower grows in is rid of toxic baterias. In addition to being beautiful, the bluebonnet is also useful.