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March 23, 2010
Wildflowers Starting to Pop Up Across Texas
AUSTIN — Someone forgot to give Texas wildflowers a wakeup call, but they are slowly rising from their winter slumber and promise a dazzling display in coming weeks.
In most parts of the state, a colder-than-average winter has gotten the wildflower season off to a slow start, but Texas Parks and Wildlife Department botanists predict a great year after the last several lackluster, drought-impacted years.
"It should be a really good year from what I’ve seen in the field due to all the rain, but some recent cold, cloudy weather might delay spring flowering a week or two," says TPWD botanist Jackie Poole. "Look for good displays at places like Enchanted Rock, Inks Lake and Palmetto state parks where sandy soils contribute to a good mix of species. LBJ should have several fields filled with bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush soon."
Recent reports from other TPWD botanists traveling highways such as U.S. 183 and Texas Highway 84 in warmer South Texas climes around Gonzales and Victoria indicated strong showings of bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, tickseed, Drummond phlox, toad flax and baby blue eyes.
In parts of central and northeast Texas, Texans are already being treated to the colorful blooms of such flowering trees as redbuds, peach, pear and Mexican plum. Judging from the profusion of pink blooms on peach trees recently spied around Fredericksburg and Stonewall, barring late spring freeze like the one that occurred last year, peach lovers are in for a stellar season.
While wildflower worshippers can find 700,000 acres along Texas highways and by-ways to indulge their passion, they can stop safely to view, photograph and smell the flowers at more than 90 Texas state parks. Some parks, such as Goose Island State Park near Rockport, host guided wildflower walks each spring weekend unless Mother Nature intervenes as it did this past Saturday with a blue norther, forcing cancellation of the outing. Nonetheless, park staff report a profusion of wildflowers throughout the coastal park, where in a couple of weeks Huisache trees will be in full bloom perfuming the air along the bayfront.
Already in West Texas parks like Big Bend Ranch, cacti are in bloom, the giant desert bluebonnets are out and yuccas are thrusting their flowering stalks toward the azure Chihuahuan Desert skies.
In East Texas, visitors to Purtis Creek, Martin Creek and other nearby state parks will soon be treated to the flowering dogwoods that light up the piney woods in mid to late spring.
One of the most prolific wildflower crops traditionally are found in rolling, verdant Washington County. Bluebonnets are just starting to make their appearance along twisting rural roads and at places like Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park. To keep track of the latest wildflower sightings, visit the Brenham and Washington County Web site.
For updated statewide wildflower reports, visit the Texas Department of Transportation’s Web site or call 1-800-452-9292 that details where noteworthy stands of wildflowers have been sighted along the state’s highways.
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