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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - November 03, 2010

From: New Braunfels, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Do pecans and bluebonnets only bloom every other year from New Braunfels TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Is it true that bluebonnets only seed every other year? I know we see bluebonnets every year, so this is quite a mystery to us. Also, is it the same with pecan trees?

ANSWER:

For Carya illinoinensis (Pecan), the answer is partially, yes.  Native pecans and many older cultivars typically bear heavy crops only every other year.  This is true for many nut-bearing trees.  However, some newer cultivars, such as 'Hopi', bear heavy crops every year. 

In the case of  Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet), no. The bluebonnet is an annual plant. By definition this means the plant must live out a full life cycle in under 12 months, every year. The seeds fall from the seed pods (or are squirted up to 20 ft. away by "explosive dehiscence") and lie in the soil until the conditions are right for germinating, which may be 60 days or 5 years. Those seeds that are viable and sprout produce rosettes about Christmas, and begin to show blooms late in February. About 6 weeks of furious blooming, the seed pods begin to form, and the cycle begins again. Every living organism's Prime Directive is to reproduce itself, and the way it is timed has everything to do with how long that plant will live, how long it has to reproduce.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Carya illinoinensis


Carya illinoinensis


Carya illinoinensis


Carya illinoinensis


Lupinus texensis


Lupinus texensis


Lupinus texensis


Lupinus texensis

 

 

 

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