Nature

The White Bluebonnet Among a Sea of Blue

By  | 

Blankets of wildflowers swaying against a backdrop of freshly minted oak leaves basking under cerulean skies leave no doubt that spring has arrived. These breath-taking views spread throughout the Texas Hill Country inspire even the most novice of photographers.

In fact, you probably own a photo of your entire family clad in their Sunday best with a freshly scrubbed Fido posing as if afloat on a raft amongst a sea of bluebonnets.

But occasionally, these oceans of blue sprout dots painted white. On closer investigation, these white dots appear as bluebonnets, too, only bleached of their violet blue color. Are these imposters or simply a different type of flower altogether?

The White Bluebonnet Among a Sea of Blue

Photo: Flickr/jerryknight

First a little history. Spanish missionaries originally received credit for bringing bluebonnets to the Texas Hill Country when they planted them all around their missions. But bluebonnets appeared long before the missionaries did and are actually native to Texas. They grow naturally in no other place in the world.

Genetics tells us when Mother Nature gives us color, she can also vary it, and take it away as well. White bluebonnets appear occasionally in the area bluebonnet population. Spotted even less frequently, a pink strain appears, too.

The White Bluebonnet Among a Sea of Blue
Photo: Flickr/goodhugh

Dr. Jerry Parsons, a horticulturist with the Texas Cooperative Extension agency at Texas A&M University, dedicated many years of his life to producing varying colors of bluebonnets, probably most notably the “Aggified” maroon bluebonnet. But he worked on other colors, too, among them white, lavender, and pink.

His method included collecting seeds from the largest populations of the varying colors he could find. Then he attempted to reproduce the lesser known colors. He successfully reproduced the white bluebonnet at 75 percent, meaning that 75 percent of the white bluebonnet seeds collected produced white bluebonnets.

Page 1 of 2:12