History

The Legend of the Pink Bluebonnet

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It’s that time of year when Texans are delighting in rolling fields blooming with our beloved state flower, the bluebonnet. Hundreds of pictures are posted and shared as families take drives to the Hill Country to snap a shot of these bold blue wildflowers. What many of them do not know, however, is that there is another strain of bluebonnets, one that is singular not only in its beauty but in its scarcity: the pink bluebonnet. The legend of this rare wildflower is touching, and illustrates how the fight for Texas’ freedom means so much to our people, even today.

Remembering A Legend

Pink bluebonnets with maroon bluebonnets in the background

Photo: www.aggle-horticulture.tamu.edu

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The legend begins with a young brother and sister making their way through a field, on their way to give their Lenten offerings at a nearby church. Their elderly grandmother follows slowly behind. When the girl notices a white flower in a field of blue, she points it out to her grandmother. Her grandma explains that these flowers are bluebonnets and that sometimes a rare white one grows among them. She explains how some even say the Lone Star flag was fashioned after a spot of white flowers surrounded by blue ones.

The boy then sees a pink one and excitedly calls them over. The grandmother is silent for a moment as they all look down at the beauty of this wildflower. “If the white ones are special, then the pink ones mean even more,” she says. She then begins to tell them a story her grandmother told her when she was a little girl, about how the rare pink flowers only grow downstream from the mission ever since the battle that was fought there so many years ago.

Painting depicting the battle of the Alamo in San Antonio

Photo: www.tshaonline.org

It was when Texas was not part of the United States, but only a remote province of Mexico. The Americanos and other foreigners had not been settled here for long, but trade was busy, and we all had hopes of a golden future for our country.

Our family owned a fine house and farm near the old cathedral. My Papa would rise early, take his tools, and work the land before the day grew too hot. Then after the noon siesta, everyone would begin to wake in the cool of the dusk. The adults would bath in the clear river, while we children splashed in the shallows. Everyone would dance, eat, and visit until late into the evening. Sometimes there were Americanos who came to celebrate with us, but their talk always turned to politics. The men were angered because the Constitution had been overthrown by a terrible Mexican dictator.

The men all went about with frowns, and the women began to be afraid. Then came that bitter spring when we learned that the dictator was on his way to our city with many troops. Papa was torn between joining the Americanos to fortify the old mission compound, and fear for his family.

He decided to hide us in the countryside, and every time I look at the ruins of the mission chapel, I remember the fear we lived in during that time. Day and night we heard the cannons and the rifles firing in the distance. The brave new Texans fought long and hard, but in the end were overwhelmed by the Mexican troops.

After the shots had finally ended, we crept silently home in the darkness. Mama and Papa were thankful that our lives had been spared, but it broke their hearts to learn of the many who had lost their lives in that terrible battle. Mama often cried when she passed the homes where friends had fallen.

One day several years later, I found her putting a pink wildflower in a vase beside the statue of the Virgin. She told me she had found it near the river where it had once been white, but so much blood had been shed, it had taken the tint of it.”

“That is why you will only find the pink ones near the river, within sight of the old mission,” the grandmother said.

The Legend Lives On

Pink bluebonnets in foreground with blue and maroon bluebonnets in the background

Photo: http://thewoodfence.blogspot.com

The pink bluebonnet continues to stand for the battle our ancestors fought for Texas’ freedom, a rare white bluebonnet tinged with the blood of our fallen brethren. Today, you may encounter a pink bluebonnet south of downtown San Antonio, but the chances are rare. Fortunately, the Texas Cooperative Extension has domesticated the pink bluebonnet into a bedding plant. Now any Texan with a green thumb can honor those brave men and women who gave their lives so that we may continue to live free in in this beautiful state we call home.