To set the mood to this post, please play Chris Rea’s “Texas” while reading. It’ll help.
It’s also the state flower of Texas.
Bluebonnets typically grow about a foot tall. As for the flower’s name? It might be the result of the shape of the petals and their resemblance to the bonnets worn by pioneer women to shield themselves from the sun. It may instead be derived from the Scottish term bluebonnet, for the traditional blue coloured version of the tam o’shanter hat, but frankly, I think that’s a stretch.
The Bluebonnet is true to it’s name…exclusively blue when it grows in the wild. A random genetic mutation does occasionally create an albino white bluebonnet naturally. Researchers at Texas A&M successfully bred red and white ones and in doing so, created a Texas state flag in bluebonnets for the 1986 Texas Sesquicentennial.
Further research led to a deep maroon strain, the A&M’s official color. Somehow, a burnt orange Lupinas didn’t make it out of the lab in College Station.
Bluebonnets grow in Texas, but not exclusively. They’re all over the Southwest actually. You can find them in California, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona.
Bluebonnet season in Texas (namely in Central and Southeast Texas) generally runs from mid-March to late May and typically, you see them ALL over Texas highways and we can thank former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson for that.
Mrs. Johnson (if you remember, she was married to that “Cracker” from Texas who passed Civil Rights legislation. His presidency was never given its due) played an active role in her husband’s administration. During her tenure as First Lady, she made 164 speeches, participated in 718 scheduled activities, and took 47 official trips.
She promoted many of LBJ’s Great Society and War on Poverty programs, including Head Start, VISTA, and Job Corps. However, her signature cause involved promoting environmental protection and beautifying the nation’s landscapes and highways. She created a First Lady’s Committee for a More Beautiful Capital, which included tree and flower plantings in Washington, D.C., then expanded her program to include the entire United States.
She lobbied for the passage of the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, which included restrictions on billboards along the nation’s highways. Of these accomplishments, Lady Bird reflected, “We walked the problem of the environment on to center stage and put it on the national agenda-clean water, clean air, the amenities in all parks, in urban areas, all of that became a part of the national thinking.”
Here in Texas, that involved, prettier freeway rest stops and additional Bluebonnet seeds planted along them. You can still see evidence of her handiwork each spring.
And this is a prime example. Stunning, really.
In Texas, our roads DO seem to go on forever.
And it’s nothing to see cars parked over to the side of the road during the height of Bluebonnet season. Twenty feet from the car or truck, you’ll see someone standing with a camera in hand. Through his viewfinder, he’s focusing on a friend or family member sitting amid a field of vibrant blue.
These flowers make an incredible backdrop.
But here in Texas, you also have to be very careful where you sitting. You… uh…you just might not be alone.
.As you can see, this is one of those BIG ASS Texas Rattlesnakes.
So, the moral of this pos: look before you squat down for an impromptu photo session in a field of Texas Bluebonnets.
It just might end up biting you in the ass.