En EspaÑol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

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
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
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.


Lupinus texensis

Lupinus texensis

 

 

More Propagation Questions

Failure to bloom of one of two Texas persimmons from Wimberly TX
May 04, 2013 - Last year my son planted two texas persimmon trees. One is blooming ok this year and the other is not. It does not seem dead. What can I do or is is in fact dying?
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

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

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

Propagating Indian Paintbrush
August 17, 2008 - I live in Pecos, NM and have a lot of Indian Paintbrush plants growing wild on my road. I wonder if you can tell me how I can propagate this plant.
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center