Shades of Bluebonnets

Did you know bluebonnets aren’t always blue? They actually come in seven different hues, all of which are legally the Texas state flower.

Who has not seen or been in a photo of a family surrounded by bluebonnets? Or viewed the numerous artistic renderings of a Hill Country pasture? But how many of you knew of the many bloom colors locked away in the genes of the Lupinus texensis?

Jerry Parsons is considered to be the prime motivator in developing the bluebonnet of many colors, but he was not the prime instigator. That honor belongs to Carroll Abbot, a great Texas plantsman, who in 1982 persuaded Parsons to create a Texas flag for the 1986 Texas Sesquicentennial using only bluebonnets.

After hundreds, if not thousands, of volunteer man-hours searching for naturally occurring mutants, the real work of selecting and growing repeated generations began. Within four years the project achieved success with traditional blue, white and pink bluebonnets, later renamed ‘Abbot Pink’ in honor of Carroll Abbot.

After 19 years of bluebonnet collection and development, we are blessed with multiple colors of bluebonnets, including:

  • Natural blue
  • Intense blue – ‘Lady Bird Johnson Royal Blue’ (selected by Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension Service as a Texas SuperStar)
  • Pink – ‘Abbot Pink’
  • Maroon – ‘Alamo Fire’ aka ‘Aggie Maroon’
  • Light purple – ‘Grant’s Maroon’
  • Dark purple – ‘Purple Heart’
  • Bright red – ‘Henry’s Red’

All of these colors are legally the state flower. How will you be inspired by the different shades of bluebonnets?

Picture of Mark Peterson
Mark Peterson
Mark A. Peterson was a conservation project coordinator for San Antonio Water System before retiring. With over 30 years of experience as an urban forester and arborist, Mark is probably the only person you know who actually prunes trees for fun. When not expounding on the benefits of trees and limited lawns, you're likely to find him hiking San Antonio's wilderness parks or expounding on the virtues of geography and history to his friends.
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