Each year, Texas fields, hills and roadsides suddenly turn from green to blue as the Texas bluebonnet flowers begin to bloom. The flower, known for its stunning blue hues and tiny petals said to resemble sunbonnets, is one of the many things that make up the rich history of the state of Texas. Whether you've grown up seeing the flowers bloom every spring or have yet to stare into a field of blue, there are probably a ton of bluebonnet facts that will fascinate you.
Texas Bluebonnet History
The state legislature of Texas named the bluebonnet the official state flower back in 1901 thanks to a nomination from the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. The women had some pushback from the male lawmakers who wanted either the cactus or the cotton boll to represent the state. Ultimately, though, the Colonial Dames won, and Texas has strutted its bluebonnet ever since.
Now, there are actually five recognized bluebonnet species that count as the state flower after a 1971 legislature decision that ruled that the original Lupinus subcarnosus, another bluebonnet with a bolder blue color called the Lupinus texensis and "any other variety of bluebonnet not heretofore recorded" would be included under the bluebonnet umbrella as the state's flower.
Of course, the Texas flower has been part of the state's landscape for longer than just the past century. Being a part of the state's rich history means the flower has a long list of names and stories attached to it. Spanish Texans referred to it as azulejo; azul silvestre, which means wild blue flower; or el conejo, which means rabbit, since the white tip in the center of the flower resembles a cottontail rabbit's tail.
It's also the subject of legends and lore. One Native American legend explores the origin of the bluebonnet. It tells the story of a young girl distressed because the Great Spirit has punished her community by bringing floods, famine and destruction. One night, she sacrifices her prized possession, a doll with blue braids, in a fire. The next morning, she and her community realize that her sacrifice has made the Great Spirit forgive them, and he gave them healthy soil teeming with bluebonnets.
Another story attempts to explain why some bluebonnets aren't blue. A lot of people are surprised to learn that different types of the flower bloom in shades including pink, red and lavender. One legend says that all of the flowers used to be blue, but after the massive bloodshed that occurred when Texans had to fight to the death in the Battle of the Alamo, some bluebonnets turned pink or red since the rivers were red with blood. They remain as a reminder of the lives lost in that struggle.
Bluebonnet Season in Texas
Bluebonnets bloom in the spring, typically for about six weeks. The season usually occurs during March and April. Much like cherry blossom season in Japan or tulip season in Holland, bluebonnet season brings thousands of tourists to Texas hoping to see fields of blue for themselves. It's common to see the wildflowers lining the highway since the Texas Department of Transportation has a wildflower program that helps grow and maintain the bluebonnets.
During that time, cities all across Texas celebrate the bloom with fairs, festivals and parades that feature the bluebonnet. The biggest celebration occurs in Ennis, Texas, a city in the eastern part of the state known for the Bluebonnet Trails Festival and is dubbed the "Official Bluebonnet City of Texas." Tourists visit to walk through miles of rural roads dotted with the gorgeous flower.
A small town called Chappell Hill hosts another popular festival each year, featuring tons of activities for visitors in addition to bluebonnet sightings. If you're lucky enough to be in Texas for bluebonnet season, it likely won't be an experience you'll forget.