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Monday - February 02, 2015

From: Terrell, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Wildflowers
Title: Plant ID–maybe a lupine?
Answered by: Nan Hampton


We have a strange plant growing in our flowerbed that we did not knowingly plant. It sprang up last summer and has continued to grow throughout the winter in spite of several freezes. We live just east of Dallas in North Texas. The plant is currently about 8 inches tall with an 18 inch girth and can best be described as mounding. There are five leaves that sprout from the stem in a circular fashion. Each leaf is about 1 inch long and 3/8 inch wide, oval shaped, dark green with a lighter edge. The leaves are smooth on the edge. The look of the leaf reminds me of a lupine, but there are only five leaves. I can provide a photo if necessary. Thank you in advance for any help you can give.


This does sound like a Lupinus sp. and most likely it is Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet).  Although that species isn't the only bluebonnet/lupine the Texas Legislature declared to be the Texas State Flower—there are five other species, Lupinus concinnus (Annual lupine), Lupinus havardii (Big bend bluebonnet), Lupinus perennis (Sundial lupine), Lupinus plattensis (Nebraska lupine) and Lupinus subcarnosus (Sandyland bluebonnet)Lupinus texensis is the species that Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) plants along highways and it is the one you are most likely to find seeds for or that you can buy as plants in nurseries.  On their own, with the right amount of moisture and optimal temperatures, the seeds tend to sprout into rosettes in September or October and continue to grow until spring when they bloom.  Cold, or even freezing, temperatures are not a problem for the young plants.  Our expert, Joe Marcus, says that it isn't unusual to see very large plants this early if they happened to get their start early.   He predicts it will be very impressive in April when it blooms!


From the Image Gallery

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

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