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
2 ratings

Friday - October 05, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Franciscans and bluebonnets
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I always thought the bluebonnets were native to Texas. However, I'm reading a book on the Missions of Old Texas and the author states the Franciscan brought into Texas the horse, cow, honey bees and even the bluebonnet which they culled from the hillsides of Jerusalem and planted them on Texas soil. Is that true?

ANSWER:

There are more than 200 species of lupines (spelled lupin, in Great Britain) worldwide.  Most are native to the Americas, but a few species hail from Europe and North Africa.  While some species of lupine now grow in Israel, none are known to be native there.  The story, like many stories about the origins of things, is fanciful.  Several of the European species of lupine are edible and are important food crops.  If the Franciscans were going to bring a species of lupine to the New World, it likely would not have been one that is palatable to neither man nor beast, as is the Texas bluebonnet. 

it is true, though, that horses, cows and domestic honeybees are all introduced species from the Old World.  It is worth noting that horses were once native to North America, but they became extinct here about 10,000 to 11,000 years ago – roughly coinciding with the arrival of man –  and no horse hoofprints were again seen on North American soil until the arrival of the Spanish some 500 years ago.  While there are many, many species of native bees, honeybees were introduced.

 

Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet), Lupinus subcarnosus (Texas bluebonnet), Lupinus plattensis (Nebraska lupine), Lupinus perennis (sundial lupine), Lupinus havardii (Big Bend bluebonnet) and Lupinus concinnus (bajada lupine) are all native to Texas and thus, are each the official state flower of Texas.  If the species Lupinus caudatus (tailcup lupine), which is occasionally found growing in Texas, is determined to be a native then it will be included among the “State Flower” members.
 

More Wildflowers Questions

Buying bluebonnet plants for project in Amarillo TX
February 10, 2013 - Is there anywhere I can buy some bluebonnet plants by March 1, 2013 for a school project? We are growing some, but they are just up.
view the full question and answer

Bloom time for Opuntia engelmannii
February 18, 2007 - We are planing a trip to West Texas, El Paso area, in March and can't remember when the prickly pear cactus are in bloom. Can you help!
view the full question and answer

When do you put out bluebonnet seeds in Bastrop, TX?
April 17, 2012 - When do you put out bluebonnet seeds?? I hear fall but don't the seeds pop out of dried up plants in early summer?
view the full question and answer

Illegal to pick wildflowers
March 14, 2004 - Is it illegal to pick wildflowers?
view the full question and answer

Mowing Bluebonnets
March 20, 2004 - When is it safe to mow Bluebonnets?
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.