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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 - February 08, 2012

From: Lake City, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Herbs/Forbs, Wildflowers
Title: Are there drug cartels on the bluebonnet trails from Lake City FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We plan to fly to TX to see bluebonnets but do not know if the weather and forest fires have destroyed them. If not, can you estimate the peak bloom time? We are 75 and 81 and move around rather slowly. Is there danger on the bluebonnet trails from drug cartels? Any projections and information you can provide will be very much appreciated. We would hate to spend so much money on the trip only to be disappointed.

ANSWER:

Let us take your questions in order. First, we have had a better preparatory Winter season for bluebonnets this year, with some rains at critical times. Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) is a winter annual. The rosettes are already up, showing buds, and the peak bloom time is usually around the last week of March into the first week of April, but bluebonnets can be seen blooming around the state from the middle of February until May. The bluebonnets are not the only gorgeous wildflowers you can see during those times in Central Texas. At the bottom of this article we will give you a list of the flowers that are blooming in Central Texas at the same time as bluebonnets, though not necessarily always in the same fields. Although the forest fires and droughts have been great tragedies, the seeds of most of our annual wildflowers were already in the soil and protected; plus, most wildflowers, including bluebonnets are sun lovers and would not necessarily even be growing in shady forest areas.

We don't know what kind of "trails" you are expecting, but seeing wildflowers in Central Texas usually involves driving trails. We will link you to some websites that should have some information on what is going on in those areas. If you fly into Austin, you will be centrally located, and can go west on Highway 290 to Fredericksburg or east to Brenham. And, of course, you must come and visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin. It does have walking trails, multiple native gardens, a nice cafe, places to sit down, an air conditioned Gallery with informational exhibits and lots and lots of bluebonnets! We would recommend you don't plan to be at the Wildflower Center on the days of April 13 to 16, when our Native Plant Sale is in progress. It's a great time to be there if you live in Central Texas, where the plants we are selling will thrive, but it's very crowded those days.

Here are some websites with more information:

Wildflower  Days at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

The Hill Country in Central Texas

How to Enjoy a Wildflower Driving Tour in the Texas Hill Country

We should tell you that picking bluebonnets in Texas is rumored to be a hanging offense, but that is not true. What is true is that private property owners, where you will see most of the bluebonnets in fields, are protected by trespassing laws. If you pick flowers on private property without the express permssion of the landowner, it is considered tresspassing. And, in the Wildflower Center, we ask for the same courtesy. We have worked hard to make our gardens beautiful and accessible to everyone, but you need to leave the blooms for others.

Now, for your last question about drug cartels on the bluebonnet trails. There are always going to be bad guys anywhere you go, but you'd have to go several hundred miles south or west to be at real risk of encounteriing a drug cartel person. You see, in Texas we're serious about our wildflowers and we don't allow anyone to mess with them.

Flowers you may see in Central Texas in March and April:

Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet)

Castilleja indivisa (Entireleaf indian paintbrush)

Callirhoe involucrata (Winecup)

Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower)

Melampodium leucanthum (Blackfoot daisy)

Oenothera speciosa (Pink evening primrose)

Phlox drummondii (Annual phlox)

Salvia coccinea (Scarlet sage)

Amblyolepis setigera (Huisache daisy)

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas indian paintbrush
Castilleja indivisa

Winecup
Callirhoe involucrata

Eastern purple coneflower
Echinacea purpurea

Blackfoot daisy
Melampodium leucanthum

Pink evening primrose
Oenothera speciosa

Annual phlox
Phlox drummondii

Scarlet sage
Salvia coccinea

Huisache daisy
Amblyolepis setigera

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