Here’s what to expect this wildflower season, how to identify Central Texas species

Although slightly later than in recent years, Texas bluebonnets and other native flowers started to bloom in the Austin area in mid-March. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Although slightly later than in recent years, Texas bluebonnets and other native flowers started to bloom in the Austin area in mid-March. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)

Although slightly later than in recent years, Texas bluebonnets and other native flowers started to bloom in the Austin area in mid-March. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)

Despite Winter Storm Uri bringing subfreezing temperatures to Central Texas in February, a prominent number of flowers should still bloom across Central Texas this wildflower season, according to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

Although slightly later than in recent years, Texas bluebonnets and other native flowers started to bloom in the Austin area in mid-March, and different species should begin to pop up over the next three months.

“Most native perennial or biennial plants such as bluebonnets fared just fine under the insulated snow and ice,” TPWD botanist Jason Singhurst said in a news release March 15. “If we can get some steady rain in the coming weeks and temperatures stay in the mid-80's or below through April, it should be a great Texas bluebonnet spring.”

Andrea DeLong-Amaya, the director of horticulture at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, said she expects wildflowers to bloom as usual, with bluebonnets expected to peak in early to mid-April.

“Our Texas bluebonnets and many other native wildflowers are adapted to cold temperatures, and the 6 to 8 inches of snow the area received acted as a blanket to protect them against the many days of freezing temperatures,” she said.


However, the schedule for native flowering trees may have been impacted by the weather, she said. Still, some trees including redbuds, Mexican plums and Texas mountain laurels should be blooming this spring. Other evergreen trees that had displayed buds earlier this year but lost them due to the freeze may not show flowers like normal.

Central Texas is home to hundreds of wildflower species that can be found in open fields, along local roads and highways, and at local parks. Here are some of the most prominent that can be found in the area.

Goldeneye phlox

Visual: small purple or pink flower with five petals and a hollow, white-to-yellow center

Fun fact: Phlox is pronounced “flocks."

Time active: February-May

Golden groundsel

Visual: small flowers with spread-out, yellow petals and an orange pollen disc at the center

Fun fact: It is an evergreen plant that blooms each spring.

Time active: February-June

Pink evening primrose

Visual: a light pink or white flower with a yellow center and four distinct petals

Fun fact: Evening primroses typically open flowers in the evenings.

Time active: February-June

Texas bluebonnets

Visual: a group of purple/blue and white petals at the top of a thin stem

Fun fact: It is the official state flower of Texas.

Time active: March-May

Indian paintbrush

Visual: fanned top with orange/red leaves under small, white flowers

Fun fact: Varieties can vary in color, including shades of yellow.

Time active: March-May

Texas yellowstar

Visual: a small, star-shaped flower with yellow, pointed petals

Fun fact: Flower stars can have five, six or three petals.

Time active: March-May

Antelope horns milkweed

Visual: cluster of small green, white and purple flowers atop a stem

Fun fact: Milkweed is the food source for monarch butterfly caterpillars.

Time active: March-October

Horsemint

Visual: white, pink or purple flowers in bunches atop the stem

Fun fact: It can stay in bloom through the summer if adequate rain is present.

Time active: April-June

Plains coreopsis

Visual: round flower head with yellow petals and a red ring at the center

Fun fact: It can be found across much of the United States.

Time active: April-June

Firewheel

Visual: round flower with yellow-tipped red petals

Fun fact: They are also known as Indian blankets.

Time active: April-June

Common sunflowers

Visual: large, round yellow flowers with a dark brown seeded center atop a tall stem

Fun fact: The seeds are edible and can be used to make oils.

Time active: July-October

Flowering trees

A number of native trees, including the Mexican plum and Texas redbud, bloom during the spring in Central Texas. Trees that go bare in the fall and winter produce flowers in early spring, which are replaced by leaves later in the season. Flowers can attract pollinators, while nectar and fruits produced can be a food source for native animals.

Mexican plum

Visual: a tree with clusters of white flowers and oval-shaped leaves

Fun fact: It produces dark purple fruit that ripen in the summer.

Time active: February-April

Texas redbud

Visual: a 15- to 20-foot-tall tree with small pink flowers

Fun fact: It has rounder, more glossy leaves than other redbud species.

Time active: March-May
By Nicholas Cicale
Nick has been with Community Impact Newspaper since 2016, working with the Lake Travis-Westlake and Southwest Austin-Dripping Springs editions. He previously worked as a reporter in Minnesota and earned a degree from Florida State University.


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