Texas is renowned for its colourful wild flowers which often occur in huge spreads and are the subject of ‘sightings’, when people come from far and wide to view the short-lived splendour. Natural prairies were always full of wild flowers, blooming among the grasses. Here is a small selection of some of the brightest and most beautiful, which also coincidentally have attractive and descriptive names.

Bluebonnet

A kind of lupin, named after the headgear worn by pioneer women. All of its species have been designated the State flower of Texas and are called bluebonnet even when they’re white.

Indian paintbrush

The name actually covers several species of vivid orange or red flower. The petal-like bracts look as if their tips had been dipped in paint. It is a semi-parasitic plant whose roots grow into the roots of other plants.

Indian blanket

Indian blanket
Indian blanket

Also called firewheel, it looks like a poncho with red in the middle and yellow at the tips of the petals. Viewed as a mass, it gives the impression of woven fabric with a bright pattern.

Texas bluebell

This flower also goes by the name Prairie Gentian. It is shaped like a large open buttercup and is bluish-purple with a dark centre. It has disappeared from some places due to indiscriminate picking but is especially beautiful where it does form a spread.

Mexican hat

The centre of the flower protrudes more than the crown of a typical Mexican hat, but other than that, the name is very apt. The petals have yellow, orange and red concentric rings.

Winecup

Obviously a cup of red wine. It is a goblet-shaped, purplish-red flower that grows on scrublands.

Black-eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susan
Black-eyed Susan

A bright yellow daisy-like flower with a central black disc. It is a native of the prairies and was used by Native Indians to make a tea to treat worms or colds, or as an external wash for sores or snakebite. There is a similar plant called Brown-eyed Susan.

Spotted beebalm

Other names for this flower with purple bracts are horse mint, lemon mint and wild bergamot. It is a very fragrant plant. Oil of bergamot is what gives Earl Grey tea its perfume.

Blue-eyed grass

This is not a grass at all but a plant with very pretty six-petalled blue flowers and grass-like leaves. It can blanket road verges and roadside pastures.

Mountain pink

This plant thrives on barren ground and grows to form a symmetrical clump. It was called quinine weed by pioneers and was dried and used to reduce fevers.

Texans think a great deal of their wild flowers. There are ongoing programmes to seed the road verges with carefully chosen native species that will both look good and require less mowing and general maintenance. Private individuals are also encouraged to buy seeds by being provided with an abundance of information on how to plant and care for them.

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