Shades of Bluebonnets

Mark Peterson

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?

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