Last year I took my infant son to a nearby park filled with bluebonnets, looked around for ant hills and snakes, and then set him down to capture the obligatory Texan photograph when he grabbed a handful of bluebonnet stems and ripped them from the ground. “Noooooo!!!!” I shouted! I was mortified. I knew for a fact that picking bluebonnets was illegal, and I was hoping the police would have mercy on me as I picked him up. Seeing no police around, I scooped him up and made a beeline for home, certain I’d escaped jail time.
Later, when I was home and calmed down, I decided to search to see just how much trouble I would have gotten in if I’d been caught with a toddler trying to eat fresh bluebonnets. Certainly it would rate at least a fine?!?
Wrong. I found that for the entirety of my life, I have been misinformed. Texas Bluebonnets are not protected, and it’s not illegal to pick them.
It is illegal to trespass on somebody else’s land without permission to pick bluebonnets, and it’s also illegal to stop in the right of way on a Texas highway. But those things are illegal whether or not bluebonnets are present.
All my life, I’ve believed a lie.
I breathed a sigh of relief. It’s okay for those grubby little hands to grab on to the Texas icon. It’s a rite of passage.
So here are a few things about Texas Bluebonnets which you may not know!
Fun Facts about Texas Bluebonnets:
- The Lupinus Texensic and Lupinus Subcarnosis (species of bluebonnets) only grow in Texas.
- Texas was the first state to plant flowers alongside the state highways.
- In 1901, the Texas Legislature named the bluebonnet, a legume, the state flower.
- There are also red and white bluebonnets.
What you NEED to know before taking to the bluebonnet fields:
- Keep little ones and pets from putting plants in their mouth. Bluebonnets are toxic to humans and animals.
- Leave the flowers as you found them. It’s not illegal to pick bluebonnets, but it is illegal to mar or take someone else’s property.
- Watch out for bees. Especially for those with allergies, stings could mean trouble.
- Look for a safe walkway. It is illegal in Texas to walk on a highway or highway shoulder.