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?


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
2 ratings

Saturday - April 21, 2012

From: Godley, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pollinators, Wildflowers
Title: Spots on bluebonnets from Godley TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Hi Mr. Smarty Plants! I'm trying to separate rumor and folktales from fact when it comes to bluebonnets in Texas. I notice that bluebonnet blossoms have a double white spot on the center petal that I am guessing acts as a visual "target" for pollinators like bees. However, I also notice that some (but not all) older flowers have a deep burgundy or almost black "target". My question is this -- does the color change from white to burgundy of the "target" spot indicate that that flower has been pollinated? Or just that it is an older flower and not producing as much (or any) nectar & pollen compared to a bloom that has just opened? I didn't think to tag the target center - darker colored blooms to see if they develop seed pods till now, and our bluebonnets are almost gone. Thank you Mr. Smarty Plants and it's a pleasure to help support the Wildflower Center!


And you can be sure we appreciate the support!

We don't want to get into this controversy, it looks to us like the pollinators (bees) and the bluebonnets are doing just fine without our trying to find out how they do it. However, we found several articles addressing this very question-we leave it to you to make your own decision.

From Texas Bee Watchers

From Texas Image Archives - Bluebonnets

From blog biologie

From honeybeesuite.com

From flickr.com


From the Image Gallery

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

More Pollinators Questions

Need plants beneficial or attractive to bees in Dripping Springs, TX
January 27, 2014 - Can you provide a specific list of plants beneficial or attractive to honey bees in the Texas Hill Country (we raise bees in Dripping Springs, TX.) Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Is Viburnum opulus var. americana (Viburnum trilobum) Self-fertile?
April 02, 2014 - I am trying to attract birds to my Chicago area yard and I believe I have good conditions to grow highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum). My question is about the need for cross pollination. The liter...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping for slope in Kansas City
October 08, 2008 - We have a down sloping back yard and patio on the lower area. We need some water absorbing plants near the foundation and some in the front of the house, where water isn't a problem. We are allergic ...
view the full question and answer

Failure of hybridized red hollies to grow
April 17, 2008 - I have 2 red hollies planted in my yard about 20' apart, 3 years now. They won't grow. Do I need to have a male with them?
view the full question and answer

Carolina Jessamine Toxic to Honey Bees?
January 20, 2015 - Is Carolina jessamine toxic to honey bees? I have read conflicting answers.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center