Texas Bluebonnets

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Texas Bluebonnets

Texas Bluebonnets

Texas Bluebonnets are one of America’s most cherished wildflowers and is also the state flower of Texas.  Most people think of Bluebonnets as one species of flower but bluebonnets are actually all categorized in one genus (Lupinus) with several species.   Of the six species located in Texas only two are endemic to the state; (L. Texenis) Texas bluebonnet and (L. subcarnosus) Sandyland Bluebonnet with the other 4 species growing in Texas, surrounding states and in Mexico.

Texas Bluebonnets are broken down into six species as follows:

Big Bend or Chisos Bluebonnet (Lupinus havardii)

Blooms:  January-June

This upright, hairy winter annual grows 32 inches to as high as 4 feet, is stemmed branched with branches slender and usually strictly upright.  The flowers are approximatelt5/8 inches longs with 5 petals blue to blue –purple; banner with creamy white spot at base, which gradually becomes yellow and then red with age,  The plant as numerous flowers in slender, terminal raceme to 18 inches long.  The leaves are alternated, stalked, with the blade divided to the base usually 7 leaflets; each leaflet to ¾ inches long.

The Big Bend Bluebonnet prefers gravelly, fine talus or alluvial soils found in deserts, valleys, hills and mountain slopes.

The Big Bend Bluebonnet as the distinction of being much taller grows more vigorously and has flowers of a much darker blue that the other species found in the state.

The species is named in honor of Dr. Valery Havard, who first collected this plant in 1881 near Presidio while surveying the Texas-Mexico border.

Perennial Bluebonnet (Lupinus perennis)

Blooms: March-May

The perennial bluebonnet is an upright, slender smooth to densely hair perennial which grows to 28 inches tall.  It has a solitary stem which often branches from base.  The perennial blue bonnet usually forms small colonies from creeping underground stems. The flowers grow to 5.8 inches long with 5 petals that are pale to dark blue or occasionally pink to white.  The upper petal has a white spot in basal area. The flowers are numerous in slender, elongating terminal raceme to 8 inches.  The leaves alternate with long stalks, mostly basal and the blade is divided to base into 7-11 leaflets, with each leaflet to 2 inches long ½ inches wide.

The Perennial Bluebonnet prefers dry, deep sandy soil in cuts or natural openings in pinelands,

The Perennial bluebonnet is not common in Texas. It has been collected in the Big Thicket National Preserve in southeast Texas.    The foliage and flowers are lacier that the traditional Texas bluebonnet.  It is sometimes refereed to Sundial Bluebonnet.

Dune Bluebonnet (Lupinus plattensis)

Blooms:  April-June

The Dune Bluebonnet is an upright perennial herb that grows to 20 inches with unbranched stems or branched from bases and forming clumps.  The flowers grow to ½ inch long with 5 petals that are dark blue to purple in color.  The banner is upright with a bright white spot at the base.  The Dune Bluebonnet has many flowers that are loosely congested into an elongated raceme to 10 inches. The leaves are large and numerous that alternate and are stalked, clustered near the base.  The blade is completely divided to the base into 7-10 narrow segments, sparsely hairy or smooth on the upper surface.

The Dune Bluebonnet prefers deep sandy soil of dunes or open areas.

This species is extremely rate in Texas and is only found in the northern most region of the Panhandle and is more common in the states bordering the NW corner of the panhandle.  It is sometimes referred to at the Platte River Bluebonnet.

Sandyland Bluebonnet

Blooms: February-April

The Sandyland Bluebonnet is an upright or sprawling, hairy winter annual that grows 6-16 inches.  The stems are unbranched or few branched from the base, the branches are often found lying on the ground.  The flowers grow to ½ inch long with 5 pale blue petals.  The banner is upright with white basal area that runs reddish with age and wing petals that are much inflated when young.  The plants have several flowers that are congested in terminal raceme.  The buds have yellowish gray or brownish hair, forming round tips to raceme.   The alternate leaves are long stalked, clustered near base of the plant.  The blade essentially smooth on the upper surface, divided to the base into usually 5 narrow segments or leaflets, each leaflet to 1 inch.

The Sandyland Bluebonnet prefers loose deep sandy soils or abandoned areas, rangelands and openings and edges of thin woodlands.

The Sandyland Bluebonnet is endemic to Texas.  In 1901 it was adopted as the state flower but because it was not as showy as L. texenis the state flower designation was taken away.

Texas bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis)

Bloom:  February-May

The Texas bluebonnet is an upright to sprawling, hairy winter annual.  The stem usually branches from the base.  The plant forms rosette of leaves in the fall and blooms the following spring.  The flowers are 3/8-5/8 inches long and very fragrant.  The plant has 5 dark blue petals.  The upper petal has a white spot at the base becoming wine red or purplish, side petals flat, not cupped or inflated in appearance when viewed from the front. The plant has many flowers in dense terminal raceme, with pointed tip that is silvery white.   The alternate leaves are mostly basal, long stalked, the blade divided to the base into usually 5 leaflets to 1 inch.

Texas bluebonnets prefer gravelly, sandy, sandy clay or calcareous soils of pastures, plains, brush lands, flats, hillsides and slopes and especially roadsides.

Texas bluebonnets are endemic to Texas and are planted by the Texas highway department as part of its erosion control and beautification program.

Annual Lupine (Lupinus concinnus)

Blooms: March-May

The Annual Lupine is one of the six bluebonnet species and is a not readily found in the state.  It is most often found near El Paso.  It is a low, upright sprawling, and hairy winter annual. That grows from 1 5/8 to 6 inches. The stems can be unbranched or much branched from the base becoming mound like. The flowers are ¾ inches long with 5 petals that are blue –lavender to rose-purple.  The banner is upright with a white basal spot. The plant has few flowers that are loosely clustered in short terminal raceme with the racemes being shorter than the foliage.  The alternate leaves are numerous and long stalked with the blade divided to the base into 5-8 segments with each segment 3/8-3/4 inches in length.

The Annual Lupine prefers sandy, clayey, or gravelly or rocky soils in grassy areas along mountain slopes above 4500 feet in elevation.

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