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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.

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

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Thursday - April 19, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: More on bluebonnets
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Are pink bluebonnets still considered very rare? I discovered several growing amongst normal blues on the National Instruments corporate campus here in Austin. I wasn't sure if the Wildflower Center or perhaps someone at UT/A&M would be interested in them in any way? I've posted a picture at http://ftp.ni.com/outgoing/bluebonnet/pink_bluebonnet.jpg In summary, is this indeed a pink bluebonnet, how rare are they really, and should we report it to anyone? Thanks.

ANSWER:

Yes, pink bluebonnets, like white bluebonnets (see the recent posting), are rather rare, although they are pretty easy to spot since they stand out in a field of blue ones. These color variants are the result of mutation in the gene(s) reponsible for the blue pigment that colors the flowers. And, unless their flowers are pollinated by pollen from a plant with similarly colored flowers, the seeds that they produce will grow into plants next year that have the typical blue flowers—not the unusual pink or white flowers.

You might contact Dr. Jerry Parsons at Texas A&M to see if he is interested, or knows anyone interested, in tracking these rare color mutants. Dr. Parsons is responsible for selecting and breeding red and maroon bluebonnets. You can read that story in The Color-ization of the State Flower.

 

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