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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Sunday - July 04, 2010

From: Lubbock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: How many leaflets does a Texas Bluebonnet have?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

How many leaves does a Texas Bluebonnet have? I have a co-worker who is making disparaging remarks about my bluebonnet plaque.

ANSWER:

How rude!   One of my fellow Green Gurus suggests hitting the cad with the plaque! 

First, I guess you need some ammunition to counter your fellow worker's disparaging words.  All species of Lupinus have palmate leaves, so I think you are really asking how many leaflets the leaves on your bluebonnet should have.  As it turns out, there are six bluebonnet species that are the State Flower(s) of Texas.  The original state flower was Lupinus subcarnosus (Texas bluebonnet), declared so by the Texas Legislature in 1901.  However, there were many people who thought that the Legislature had made a mistake and who wanted the larger, showier Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) to be the official State Flower.  For 70 years the controversy "raged" over which of the State's bluebonnet species should have that honor.  Finally, to settle the dispute, in 1971 the State Legislature decided to add Lupinus texensis and "any other variety of bluebonnet not heretofore recorded".  This means that all six species of bluebonnets (Lupinus spp.) that occur in Texas are the official State Flower(s) of Texas.  This included Lupinus texensis and Lupinus subcarnosus, as well as Lupinus concinnus (bajada lupine), Lupinus havardii (Big Bend bluebonnet), Lupinus plattensis (Nebraska lupine) and Lupinus perennis (sundial lupine).  Most likely, you have Lupinus texensis portrayed on your plaque, but maybe not.   At any rate, whichever you have portrayed on your plaque, here is the answer to how many leaflets each has:

According to the Correll and Johnston's Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas, pp. 802-803, for the Genus Lupinus listed in Texas they say:   "...leaves alternate, palmately compound with 3 to 10 leaflets.

Specifically for Lupinus texensis (the species most commonly seeded on roadsides by the Texas Department of Transportation) and Lupinus subcarnosus, Correll and Johnston say: "Leaves with predominately 5 or 6 (very rarely 7) leaflets;..."

Shinners & Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas says that Lupinus texensis has 4 to 7 leaflets.

Here are the leaflet counts for the other species, according to Correll and Johnston:

Lupinus plattensis:  "Leaves with predominantly 7 to 10 (very rarely 6 or 5) leaflets;..."

Lupinus concinnus:  "...leaflets 5 to 8;..."

Lupinus havardii:  "...leaflets usually 7;..."

Correll and Johnston do not include Lupinus perennis in their descriptions, but Jean Andrews in The Texas Bluebonnet says that Lupinus plattensis and Lupinus perennis have 7 to 19 leaflets.

Even though there are usually 5 leaflets per leaf for Lupinus texensis (see the photos in our Image Gallery), the number of leaflets can be variable.  You don't say how many leaflets the bluebonnet on your plaque has, but if it's anywhere between 4 and 7, you can ask your co-worker for an apology. 

You might be able to see leaves with varying number of leaflets in this photo of Lupinus texensis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Wildflowers Questions

Possibility of over-watering of Asclepias tuberosa
August 05, 2005 - Another question about butterfly weeds, the leaves on one of my plants are turning a yellow-red color and the blossoms seem to be dying (drying up) before they can bloom. It is right in the same area...
view the full question and answer

Digging up and transplanting wild plants in Alloway NJ
July 01, 2010 - I saw some wild growing black eyed susans in a passing field so I dug some up this weekend and planted them in my garden now they look like they are dying. Do you think they will come back next year ?...
view the full question and answer

Pollinators for Washington State
June 26, 2015 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am removing invasive knotweed in the Pacific Northwest and I would like to provide native plant alternatives that would flower and provide pollen in the late summer/fall f...
view the full question and answer

Stabilizing a steep slope in KY
March 31, 2011 - We are building a new home and have a very steep hill behind the home. Our highlift operator just cleared it off - I would say about 15 to 20 feet in height and at least 150 feet in length. What wou...
view the full question and answer

Monarda species seed for heirloom gardens in Wales
June 15, 2012 - Hello. I am trying to obtain seeds for the following Monarda species: - barletti, lindheimeri, russeliana, and viridissima. Our address is Wales, United Kingdom and we are hoping to obtain the full c...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Bibliography

Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas (1979) Correll, D. S. & M. C. Johnston

Shinners & Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas (1999) Diggs, G. M.; B. L. Lipscomb; B. O'Kennon; W. F. Mahler; L. H. Shinners

The Texas Bluebonnet (1986) Andrews, J.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center