En EspaŅol

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

Wildflowers for an April wedding in McAllen TX
April 16, 2010 - I live in McAllen Texas and plan to get married April 2011. My dream is to get married at my parents ranch. I visualize beautiful wildflowers and I am not sure what to plant and when. Any suggestion...
view the full question and answer

Native wildflowers for Denver, Colorado area
March 17, 2007 - I live in the Denver, CO area and would like to plant more native wildflowers. Can you please tell me where I can find a list?
view the full question and answer

Seeding wildflowers in Dallas
June 30, 2009 - What is the best way to establish seed for wildflowers in Dallas, TX? The area does get some irrigation from rotors. Would hydromulch be the most effective option?
view the full question and answer

Butterfly Garden, non-poisonous to Dogs, in Taylor MI
March 27, 2014 - I have a small fenced yard with a patio that my dogs have free access to. I would like to create a butterfly garden and add other plants that are non toxic to my dachshunds. Any suggestions. I am f...
view the full question and answer

Seed companies selling winecups (Callirhoe sp.)
April 09, 2008 - can you recommend some wild flower seed companies where I can purchase seeds of the winecups that I see growing all along the roadsides? I tried one wild flower seed company but did not have good luck...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center