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Bluebonnets aren’t just blue and here is why?

Yep, that is a bluebonnet, just not blue!
Yep, that is a bluebonnet, just not blue!

It is bluebonnet time, and given the current coronavirus, this might be a nice weekend trip where you never even have to get out of the car! And if you do, it’s pretty easy to keep a social distance.

Keep your social distance from these guys!
Keep your social distance from these guys!

Yesterday, I received a Click2Pin of an Aggie Bluebonnet, known for its maroon color.

This guy, former Texas A&M Extension agent and horticulturalist, Dr. Jerry Parsons, took a challenge from a colleague in 1982 to create a Texas State Flag of red, white and blue bluebonnets by 1986, in time for the state’s Sesquicentennial.

Dr. Jerry Parsons
Dr. Jerry Parsons

Obviously, there were plenty of bluebonnet seeds out there and, believe it or not; white bluebonnets are more common than you might think. They are simply blues that have naturally faded to white, known as an ‘albino’ bluebonnet, and 75% of their seeds will produce more whites.

The task was red! Parsons located a small clump of pink bluebonnets in San Antonio and harvested those seeds (just in time because road crews were about to excavate!). Only 12% of pinks will produce more pinks, but from those, Dr. Parsons was able to create darker and darker hues until the reds came along (it took 20 years, so other plants had to be used for the 1986 flag!).

Eventually, though, Dr. Parsons succeeded.

Dr. Jerry Parson's picture of bluebonnets creating the Texas Flag
Dr. Jerry Parson's picture of bluebonnets creating the Texas Flag

Along the way, for those of you that remember the color wheel, guess what happens when you blend blue and red? Purple! Or, in the case of A&M, Aggie Maroon!

There is lots of background reading like here from the Texas Hill Country or KUT. It’s really fascinating to learn about our state flower and just how these different hues came to be! A big Thank You and Salute to Dr. Jerry Parsons, Horticulture Hall of Famer!

Have a great weekend, and enjoy the countryside!

Frank

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