April 2013 Wildflower ForecastIntermittent Rains Benefit Texas' Late Spring, Summer Wildflower Blooms
ABOVE: Bluebonnets that bloomed early in the season are encouraged to stick around by cool spring temperatures.
Some generous rain showers throughout the spring bode well for wildflowers that bloom in Texas from late April on, according to the senior botanist at The University of Texas at Austin’s Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
“Look for the wildflower season to improve as we get deeper into spring and into the early summer, when wildflowers that need less rainfall traditionally reach their peak,” said Damon Waitt, who also is the center’s senior director.
Cool temperatures have also encouraged Texas bluebonnets, blackfoot daisies and other early bloomers to stick around longer in locations where there was enough fall rain for them to flower. In other areas, the cool weather delayed the peak of some blooms.
“We’re just getting into a great show of bluebonnets at the Wildflower Center,” Waitt said, “and the same is true for some other public viewing spots, so it’s worth getting out to enjoy early spring sightings.”
Among the good viewing options are: bluebonnet patches along roadways near Brenham, Texas. Other Washington County sightings include many coreopsis along Highway 290 East near Hempstead and winecups and other wildflowers where that highway intersects with FM 1488.
Blankets of bluebonnets and a few Indian paintbrush have been spotted along FM 1431 between Marble Falls and Lago Vista. Dallasites haven’t had many great shows of bluebonnets, but other wildflowers there include masses of ground plum and fringed puccoon seen in Norbuck Park. Bluebonnets have been seen along Highway 290 into Houston and along Highway 59 north of FM 1960. And in Austin, good stands of pink evening primrose and Texas bluebonnets have been seen along MoPac (Loop 1) and other highways.
ABOVE TOP: Bastard cabbage (Rapistrum rugosum) in bloom. BOTTOM: Bastard cabbage (Rapistrum rugosum) threatening bluebonnets along the roadside. Photos by Mark Simmons.
Generally, Waitt’s prediction that early spring bloomers wouldn’t have a banner year along roadways has held true, but a silver lining has been fewer displays of non-native, invasive plants such as bastard cabbage. “The same conditions that have given us a moderate wildflower season so far are giving us a milder season of bastard cabbage and other invasive plants,” Waitt noted. He added that that can make it easier to address plants that compete with native ones for resources such as this Eurasian/North African mustard plant with small, highlighter-yellow colored flowers.
“If you recognize it in an area that you have permission to enter and can safely do so, pull it out, bag it and dispose of it before it goes to seed,” he advised.
Waitt also recommended traveling side roads for the best shows of truly native wildflowers, as their right of ways are less likely to be disturbed. Non-native invasive plants like bastard cabbage tend to pop up in areas of disturbed soils, such as where construction has occurred.
To learn more about removing invasive bastard cabbage and a TXDOT contact for “pulling parties,” visit: http://www.wildflower.org/howto/show.php?id=48&frontpage=true. To determine whether a plant in your yard is an invasive one, visit this website the Wildflower Center developed: http://www.texasinvasives.org/invasives_database/. To find options for purchasing seeds to sow of mid- to late summer bloomers or potted native plants, visit: http://www.wildflower.org/suppliers/.
To view wildflowers at the center before visiting, go to: http://www.wildflower.org/bbcam. For general public sightings, go to sites such as: http://www.wildflowerhaven.com and http://lnstar.com/wildflowers/index.html, or contact the Texas Department of Transportation at 1-800-452-9292.
Story by Barbra A. Rodriguez
Editor’s Note: High-resolution wildflower photos are available for media using the request form at the bottom of http://www.wildflower.org/gallery/. Roadside sightings were provided by Suzanne Chapman of Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens; Lu Hollander at the Brenham/Washington County Convention & Visitors Bureau; and Jim Varnum and MJ Hansen of the Dallas and Highland Lakes chapters of the Native Plant Society of Texas.