Bluebonnets in full bloom at Big Bend National Park
It may not technically be spring yet, but West Texas is already buzzing with the first sighting of bluebonnet flowers in Big Bend National Park.
The 2019 Wildflower Season Outlook provided by wildflowerhaven.com, predicted the season would begin early, with blooms appearing on the roadsides before showing up in fields.
“Blooms were first spotted in mid-February and are expected to last until the first week of April,”a representative from Travel Texas tells CNN Travel. “A second bloom [is expected] later this fall from late August to early October.”
The bluebonnet is an iconic image for the Texas landscape and brings in thousands of tourists every year. A festival is held in the bluebonnet capital of Burnet, Texas, the second weekend of April to celebrate the blooms.
The Big Bend bluebonnet, lupinus havardii, is a different, earlier blooming species than the smaller flower that adorns meadows and roadsides in the rest of Texas. According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center database, the Big Bend bluebonnet can grow from 1-3 feet tall with flowers on the upper 4-8 inches of the stem.
“The tall stems and showy flowers of L. havardii distinguish it from L. subcarnosus, a smaller, less showy species, which was originally designated as Texas state flower (in 1901),” the database says. “In 1971, however, the state legislature designated all Lupinus species as the official state flower.
Former first lady Lady Bird Johnson was responsible for expanding the reach of bluebonnets and other wildflowers when she led a campaign to beautify America in the 1960s. Johnson established the wildflower research center in Austin in an effort to teach others about wildflower conservation. The center was later renamed in her honor.