What Does a Purple-Painted Tree or Fence Post Mean in Texas?

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Tony Maples Photography


If you’re an avid back-country explorer or typically find yourself going off the beaten path, take special care to notice purple trees and fence posts. What may seem like irregular oddities are actually visual ‘No Trespassing’ signs.

This phenomenon began in Arkansas in 1989 as a way for property owners to signify their divide between public and private land for others. Soon, nine other states adopted the same token purple tree. Texas joined the ranks in 1997.

The official law states that landowners, however, had to put up a sign detailing what the purple paint means in addition to painting the area. So if signs are required, why use paint, too?

Well, as Jonathan Kennedy told KTEK, “The reason the Texas legislature did that is they were trying to keep landowners from constantly having to replace signs. In Texas as we know, people like to take target practice at signs so they are having to replace them frequently.”

This strategy simply keeps landowners from constantly having to replace signs, and the color purple was chosen because it is visible to even colorblind individuals. So, next time you spot purple paint in Texas on a fence post or tree, take caution in crossing that line because you’re then venturing onto someone’s private property.