Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
1 rating

Wednesday - April 18, 2007

From: Plano, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Obtaining seeds for mutant white bluebonnet
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have seen a white bluebonnet in Brenham on Easter and wondered how rare the white ones are and how you get seeds for those. Are there any special directions on collecting seeds for planting next fall? Scarify, keep dry/cool, etc. What is your opinion of the weather affecting this years bluebonnets?

ANSWER:

The white bluebonnet you saw is the result of a mutation in one of the genes responsible for producing the blue pigment of the flower. There are color variations other than white that show up occasionally (e.g., pink) but neither the white flower nor any of the other variants are true breeding. In other words, if they are sitting in a field with mostly normal bluebonnets, the pollen that the white ones receive will most likely be from the normal bluebonnets. This pollen will mask the mutation in the next generation so that they will have blue flowers instead of white. Some white ones will still surface every so often since blue flowers can carry (but masks) the mutant gene that causes white flowers. To produce white flowers, an egg with the white mutant gene must be fertilized by pollen which also has the mutant gene. If you want a population of all white bluebonnets, the white parent flowers have to be fertilized only by pollen that carries the mutation.

Dr. Jerry Parsons of Texas A&M, by carefully selecting and breeding color variants, produced a red bluebonnet and a Texas Aggie maroon bluebonnet. You can read about how he accomplished this in The Color-ization of the State Flower.

Wildseed Farms in Fredricksburg has the maroon, Alamo Fire, but Mr. Smarty Plants hasn't found a source for the white bluebonnet.

You can find "How to Grow Bluebonnets" in our how to articles with information about collecting, treating and planting bluebonnet seeds.

The rains have been beneficial for a good crop of bluebonnet seeds and the below freezing temperatures were short-lived, or non-existent, in most of the bluebonnets' range so shouldn't affect their seed production for next year's crop.

 

 

More Propagation Questions

Starting desert willow from seeds
September 21, 2008 - Is it better to sow or start desert willow seeds in pots? If sowing is effective, is fall or spring the best time to sow in the Canyon Lake area of Central Texas?
view the full question and answer

Presence of male Yaupon to ensure berries on female yaupons
November 09, 2008 - Does a female Yaupon have to be planted next to a male to insure berries every year? I have had "experts" tell me absolutely yes and others tell me absolutely not.
view the full question and answer

Planting a pair of Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides for fruiting
October 19, 2008 - I'd like to plant a pair of witherod viburnums to improve their fruiting. Can I get the cross-pollination with a v. cassanoides together with a v. nudum? How close together do they need to be? (Ca...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting Cornus sericea by sprouts in Maryland
November 21, 2008 - I would like to transplant suckers of a red-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea). When is the best time to do it (before or during dormancy)? How big of a root system does each sucker need to survive? Where ...
view the full question and answer

Planting Purple Threeawn (Aristida purpurea) and Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)
October 05, 2007 - Do you have information on planting Purple Threeawn and Little Bluestem? Also are there any inherent problems when planting…things to avoid, etc. Wanting to plant as ornamentals in the North Texas D...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.