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Texas State Parks Welcoming Spring Blooms
AUSTIN – Fields of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush, redbuds aglow with blossoms the color of rose’ wine and desert cacti and yuccas sporting delicate, colorful blooms confirm that spring is hitting its stride throughout Texas.
Texas is blessed with more than 5,000 species of wildflowers. 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.
Photo buffs are reminded they have until midnight, April 14, to submit their best shots and possibly win a GoPro© video camera from Whole Earth Provision Co.
To enter the contest, visit: www.texasstateparks.org/photography and follow the links to the contest. Sign into Flickr (Yahoo), or for entrants who prefer to sign in with an existing Google account or Facebook account, there’s a way to do that, too. Select “Join This Group” to be added to the “2014 Texas State Parks Photo Contest,” then upload your entries. For complete contest rules, visit www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/parks/things-to-do/photo-contest-rules .
Most Texas State Parks are using social media sites, such as Facebook and Pinterest, to provide updates about where to view noteworthy flora in bloom. Recent reports noted good stands of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush at Lake Somerville State Park and fields of bluebonnets at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site. Postings on Pinterest cited Seminole Canyon’s claret cup cactus; Bentsen-Rio Grande’s Spanish daggers, lantana and huisache; Lake Brownwood’s Texas redbuds; Lake Whitney’s bluebonnets; and Palmetto’s bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush.
An excellent place to view spring bloomers is the Lady Bird Wildflower in Austin, which as of mid-March reported: Mexican plum, Texas bluebonnets, Mexican gold poppy, Texas redbud, agarita, coralberry and fragrant sumac, among others. To see up-to-date reports, visit: http://www.wildflower.org/whatsinbloom/.
The Texas Department of Transportation website (https://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/division/travel/wildflowers.html) presents ongoing reports from throughout the state. You also may call 1-800-452-9292 for details about where noteworthy stands of wildflowers have been sighted along the state’s highways.
In most areas of Texas, state botanists say decent fall rains have resulted in a good crop of wildflowers except in parts of the Hill Country and West Texas where moisture has been scant and sporadic. It should be noted that the blooming season for most of the state west of the Pecos River isn’t spring, but mid to late summer.
“Because of a continuing lack of rainfall, there aren’t many wildflowers in the Edwards Plateau region,” reports Jackie Poole, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department botanist. “I have noticed a few Indian paintbrushes, and in certain spots around Austin, bluebonnets are doing well.”
Fellow TPWD botanist Jason Singhurst recently has been traveling the roads throughout Northeast Texas this spring. Among trees in bloom, he reports flowering dogwood, red buckeye, sassafras, redbuds, Mexican plum, mayapples, sand plum and Chickasaw plum. As for wildflowers and shrubs, Singhurst has spotted white trout lilies, goldenrod, wooly groundsel, farkleberry, bluets, bluebonnets, buttercups, Indian paintbrush swamp privet.
A couple of late freezes in east and northeast Texas caught redbuds and Mexican plums just starting to bud and bloom, thwarting their colorful show. There are very few wildflowers blooming and even the azaleas in Tyler have not bloomed, reports Kay Jenkins, regional natural resource specialist in Tyler.
“Dogwood blooms are starting to open up and Daingerfield and Tyler state park are typically good places to see those,” Jenkins says. “I did see some mayapples blooming the other day and good parks to see them include Tyler and Caddo Lake state parks. Two of my favorite places to see wildflowers each year are Cedar Hill and Eisenhower state parks, where coneflowers and foxglove should be blooming soon.”
Some of the most reliable places for viewing dazzling crops of wildflowers crops year-in, year-out are found in rolling, verdant Washington County, and this year is no exception. Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site between Brenham and Navasota offers great wildflower diversity among 293 acres of natural riverside beauty, as well as an informative primer on early Republic of Texas history. Further south, Goliad State Park reports wildflowers are “beautiful.”
If you’re heading to Big Bend country in the next week or two, stop by the Barton Warnock Visitor Center in Lajitas and check out the cactus garden. A number of species, including rainbow cactus, claret cactus, ocotillo, yucca, huisache, agave and Big Bend bluebonnets, are putting on their spring show.
And even further out west in El Paso, Franklin Mountains State Park ranger Adrianna Weickhardt reports nature is putting on a dazzling display of desert marigolds, lyreleaf twistflowers, blackfooted daisies, claret-cup cactus, feather daleas and verbenas, with barrel cacti on the verge of blooming.
Recent sightings reported by TPWD staff elsewhere in Texas State Parks include:
- Mission Tejas (Grapeland) – dogwoods in full bloom
- Meridian – bluebonnets are about a third of the way through the bloom cycle; thicker patches but not as widespread
- Goose Island (Rockport) – bluebonnets, blue-eyed grass, and spiderworts in full bloom in a half dozen different shades, including pink, hot pink, lavender, purple, dark blue and light blue
- Palmetto (Gonzales) – some bluebonnets near the entrance but much needed recent rains should spur more blooming
- Lake Casa Blanca (Laredo) — lots of bluebonnets blooming along Ranchito Road and the north side of the park (just west of the Kiddie Park).
- Fairfield – nice bluebonnets at the headquarters; flowering dogwoods, Indian paintbrush and wild plum also are noteworthy
- Tyler — Mexican plums are in peak bloom right now; violets blooming in the forest and rose verbena blooming in the open woodlands and on the Blackjack hill. Dogwoods just now coming out, Jack-in-the-pulpit about bloom below the dam and floating bladderwort blooming in the swampy areas
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