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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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Monday - August 07, 2006

From: Cleveland, OH
Region: Midwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: More on bluebonnets
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Dean Garrett

QUESTION:

Can you grow Texas bluebonnets in Madison, OH which is right near Lake Erie?

ANSWER:

There are six species of the genus Lupinus in Texas. All are officially the state flower. If another species of Lupinus is discovered in Texas, it will also be considered a state flower. In Texas, all Lupinus species are called bluebonnets; however, one of the six species, Lupinus texensis, is the most familiar, commonly seeded along highways throughout the state but native only to Central Texas. Outside of Texas, species in the same genus are called lupines, and their variety increases the farther west you go on the continent.

Because of the differences in climate and soils, it is doubtful that any of the species of Texas bluebonnets would survive and thrive in Ohio. However, there is one lupine species, Lupinus perennis, that is native to Ohio. This wild lupine looks very much like a Texas bluebonnet but is suited to the Ohio environment. Lupinus polyphyllus occurs just north of Ohio. It is a native of the western states that has been naturalized in the Great Lakes area. You would probably be most successful with one of these two bluebonnet lookalikes rather than one of the Texas species.
 

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