En Espa—ol

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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - June 10, 2010

From: Sealy, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Wildflowers
Title: Taking bluebonnets to Anchorage AK from Sealy TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Moving to Anchorage Alaska from Texas and I am bringing bluebonnet seeds to plant there. Will the moose eat these plants/flowers?

ANSWER:

We were in Anchorage just about this time last year (early June), and saw many beautiful members of the Lupinus genus that, had we not known better, would have thought they were Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet), What we did not see were moose roaming the streets and grocery shopping in yards, which is a good thing. If a grown moose comes into your vicinity, you have much worse things to worry about than your flowers. They are LARGE and not very good-natured. Also, all members of the Lupinus genus are poisonous, and the moose have probably learned that, or have it in their genetic code or something.

While we were there, we visited the Museum in Anchorage (don't miss that) and purchased a copy of A Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, see Bibliography below.  As we took the train first to Seward and then to Denali, we saw many, many of these flowers along the rail tracks. One thing you need to know is that South Central Alaska is basically a swamp. It is very low in altitude, and there are rivers and seacoast that contribute to that. Their average high temperatures range from 21 in December to 64 in July. The Texas Bluebonnet is endemic to Texas, and as you can see from this USDA Plant Profile, it lives in areas that are far warmer.

Our Native Plants Database lists four members of the genus Lupinus native to Alaska: Lupinus arcticus (arctic lupine), Lupinus nootkatensis (Nootka lupine), Lupinus nootkatensis var. fruticosus (Nootka lupine) and Lupinus polyphyllus (bigleaf lupine). Of these, only Lupinus arcticus (arctic lupine) and Lupinus nootkatensis (Nootka lupine) are discussed in the book. Nootka lupine must have been what we were seeing, as Arctic lupine does not grow in the southern coastal areas.

So, let's compare growing conditions for the Texas Bluebonnet and the Nootka Lupine. 

Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet)

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Limestone/chalky, Sandy Loam, Limestone-based, Calcareous, Sandy, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Caliche 

Lupinus nootkatensis (Nootka lupine)

Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Description: Gravelly soils. 

So, to answer your specific question: Will the moose eat your Texas bluebonnets? Don't much think so, especially since we are not at all sure they would even come up in the wrong soil, wrong climate, wrong seasons, different from what they are acclimated to over millennia. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are dedicated to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. The Texas Bluebonnet is our poster plant for this practice. We recommend you go native in Alaska.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Lupinus texensis

Lupinus texensis

Lupinus nootkatensis

Lupinus nootkatensis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Wildflowers Questions

Bluebonnets in Colorado mountains
April 21, 2007 - Will Bluebonnets grow up in Colorado in the mountains?
view the full question and answer

Critter-Proof Native Plants for Virginia Lawn
April 02, 2015 - We live in a gated community that was part of the Wilderness Battlefield during the Civil War. Our home is on a narrow lot, fully treed except for a postage stamp-sized lawn at lake side. We have de...
view the full question and answer

Strangling Bluebonnets
March 14, 2004 - I have some Bluebonnets that are being strangled by some strange rope-like plant. Whatís going on here?
view the full question and answer

Large-scale wildflower maintenance
June 14, 2008 - We purchased the Texas/Oklahoma wildseed mix from your shop last year and planted them this past fall. The wildflowers came up beautifully, but at the beginning of June, after flowering just one time...
view the full question and answer

A bounty of options for planting natives in Hockley Texas
April 21, 2011 - I have about 1 acre of land in Hockley Texas, outside Houston, that we had cleared of shrubs and poison ivy. We kept the trees so there are some areas with mostly shade and some areas with partial su...
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