And other popular bluebonnet questions answered.

Meghan Overdeep
February 26, 2018

As Texas gears up for a particularly beautiful bluebonnet season, now seems like the perfect time to address best practices when it comes to handling the beloved state bloom.

We spoke with Samantha Elkinton, the gardens manager for Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, who dispelled the popular myth that picking the state flower of Texas is illegal.

“It is not illegal to pick bluebonnets,” Elkinton noted. “However, it is illegal to pick anything on state land, which is where the bluebonnet myth comes from.”

And while it’s tempting to pull over for photo ops where they’re most prevalent—alongside the highway—Elkinton warns against these roadside photo sessions.

“You don’t know what’s there. We have rattlesnakes, fire ants and scorpions here, as well as plenty of other dangerous things that could be hiding among the bluebonnets,” Elkinton said. Instead, she suggests state parks, like the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, where there are safe, designated places for visitors to take their bluebonnet pics.

If you do find a safe, public place for your annual family photo, or make arrangements with a private landowner (trespassing is illegal, even in bluebonnet season, y’all!) Elkinton stressed the importance of treating the annual blooms with care.

“When you go out and sit in the middle of the bluebonnets you’re most likely crushing one and killing it,” explained Elkinton. “It wouldn’t be a big deal if you were the only one doing it, but when everyone does it, whole patches can die before they have the chance to reseed.”

The same goes for picking. The seeds are produced in the flower, so if you pluck them out of the ground they won’t come back. You won’t get arrested, but you are being greedy.

So this year, pose in front of the bluebonnets. This guarantees not only your safety, but the safety of the precious wildflowers—and ensures that your fellow Texans can also enjoy this springtime tradition for years to come.