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

Growing bluebonnets from seed in Maitland FL
May 17, 2011 - Can I grow bluebonnets from seed in Maitland? The soil is quite sandy, and I do have sunny, dry places to grow them. Are there any special requirements necessary away from their native habitat?
view the full question and answer

Annual flowers for fall planting in San Antonio
June 22, 2010 - What are some recommended annual flowers for fall planting in a small garden in San Antonio? Also any help on planting and cultivating would be appreciated.
view the full question and answer

Native flowers for a wedding in June in Tennessee
March 09, 2009 - I am planning a June 6th wedding on our farm. The wedding is in our backyard. I have lots of containers and several beds. Our daughter wants pink, purple, white and blue flowers. I have a greenhouse...
view the full question and answer

Getting milkweed seeds into seed mixes from Milwaukee WI
February 07, 2014 - My husband and I are concerned about the Monarch butterfly migration and have started an effort to get milkweed planted along some bike trails here in Wisconsin. This made me think of Ladybird Johnso...
view the full question and answer

Texas wildflower blooms by month
July 20, 2007 - What Texas wildflowers bloom in January across the state? And the same for the following months throughout the year. Thank you.
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