#TravelTuesday: Wildflowers & Blooming Plants Put on a Show at Texas State Parks

by Bebe Brown on April 17, 2018 in Travels, Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio,
Bluebonnets at Eisenhower State Park Canva e1523915001324

Texas is the home to more than 5,000 species of wildflowers and recent rains are sure to usher in an explosion of color before the end of the season.

More than 90 Texas State Parks present some of the best and safest places to view and photograph nature’s bounty of wildflowers and blooming shrubs and trees. And this year’s bounty is Texas-size. “Spring wildflower shows have been spectacular in East, Central, North, coastal and South Texas,” said Jason Singhurst, botanist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “With recent rains blanketing a large percentage of Texas, we are experiencing astonishing wildflower displays and should expect increasing wildflower intensity through April and into May.”

Presently, every region of the state is presenting different varieties of wildflowers, including:

Central Texas: The rolling hillsides and plateaus are providing a colorful and prolific wildflower wave that is layered with bluebonnets, Texas star, blue sage, Indian blanket, Mexican hat, prairie fleabane, prairie verbena, greenthread, two-leaved senna, four-nerve daisy, Drummond’s onion, old plainsman, golden eye phlox, wine cups, phlox, Missouri primrose, antelope horn milkweed, sundrops, white rain lily, Drummond’s skullcap, Blackfoot daisy, foxglove and Lindheimer’s paintbrush. The Hill Country woodland ground flora is draped with false dayflower (‘widows tears’), plateau spiderwort, baby blue eyes, red columbine, Texas milkweed, blue curls and roundleaf groundsel.

Texas bluebonnet and Texas paintbrush at Guadalupe River State Park. Photo Craig Hensley

Coastal Texas prairies, barrier islands, and the South Texas ’Sand Sheet’: An array of wildflowers are on display including prairie nymph, prairie clovers, betony-leaf mistflower, Indian blanket, silverleaf sunflower, seaside goldenrod, showy nerveray, erect dayflower, Texas groundsel, woolly whites, longbract wild indigo, coralbean, Rio Grande greenthread, American snoutbean, coast germander, sand rose gentian, sand verbena, phlox, sea lavender, sea rocket and side-cluster milkweed.

Firewheel (a.k.a. Indian blanket) is blanketing the dunes at Galveston Island State Park. Courtesy photo

East Texas: The Pineywoods’ hardwood slopes and bottomland forest flora has been extraordinary with a plethora of wildflowers including trout lilies, trilliums, mayapple, violets, purple meadow-rue, groundsels, blue iris, wisteria, flowering dogwood, blue-star, spider lily, yellow jasmine, crossvine, jack-in-the-pulpits, Virginia sweetspire, hawthorns, spiderworts, white-flowered milkweed, azalea, fringe tree and silver bells.

Spider lillies blooming at Fort Boggy State Park. Courtesy photo

North Texas: The landscape is profuse with brown eyed Susan, winecup, basket flower, paintbrushes, pennyroyal, showy evening primrose, fleabane, prairie clovers, blue-eyed grass, buttercups, snakeherb, butterfly weed, false dragon-head, sundrops, beeblossum, Texas skeleton plant, larkspur, coneflowers, blue mealy sage, wild indigo and astonishing numbers of green milkweeds.

Scarlet hedgehog cactus at Lost Maples State Park. Courtesy photo

Southwest Texas: From Laredo north to Del Rio wildflower displays are increasing and include blue mistflower, Texas blueweed, Engelmann’s daisy, camphorweed, paper flower, lemonscent, bush sunflower, Texas varilla, zexmenia, bladderpods, many cacti, Texas palo verde, guayacan and cenezio.

Always remember to exercise caution when taking wildflower photos on busy roadways by using your emergency lights and being mindful of disturbing wildlife resting or hiding in that location, such as nesting birds, or undesirable encounters with venomous snakes and fire ants.

Multi-hued prickly pear blossoms at Estero Llano Grande State Park in the Texas valley. Courtesy photo

Texas State Parks offer great picturesque settings for family wildflower photos away from busy roadways and now is a prime time for unique and diverse wildflower displays. Park visitors can share their wildflower pictures—and see what’s blooming around the state—on the TPWD Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Recent sightings reported by TPWD staff in Texas State Parks include:

Wildflower enthusiasts can sport the Texas state flower and support Texas State Parks all year with the bluebonnet conservation license plate. Proceeds from license plate purchases go towards natural and cultural resource projects, the Buffalo Soldiers program and interpretive exhibits at parks.

All photography courtesy TPWD. Cover photo:  Bluebonnets at Eisenhower State Park