1. Bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis)—Begins blooming early spring (but Big Bend bluebonnet can bloom as early as January). All six spe-cies of bluebonnet that grow in the state have been designated the State Flower by the Texas Legis-lature. A member of the large lupine genus.
2. Indian paintbrush (Castilleja spp.) Blooms early spring throughout the state. Several species, whose colors vary from scarlet to orange, cream, yellow, and occasionally purple. The bright tips of the petal-like bracts look like they’ve been dipped in paint. The genus name honors Spanish botanist Domingo Castillejo (1744-1793).
3. Indian blanket (Gaillardia pulchella)—Blooms April to June across much of the state. When viewed in a mass, the brilliant combination of red, orange, and yellow resembles brightly woven fabric. Also called firewheel.
4. Drummond phlox (Phlox drummondii)—Blooms early spring. Oc-curs most frequently in spectacular masses of color among sandy post-oak woods and along roadsides in south Central Texas. Named for Scottish botanist Thomas Drum-mond, who collected the plants on a visit to Texas in 1834. Most common color is red, but shades of pink, blue, and purple are also seen. Also called wild phlox.
5. Verbena (Verbena spp.)—Blooms most profusely in spring, but may flower at other times of the year depending on rainfall. Found throughout the state; among Tex-as’ most abundant wildflowers.
6. Pink evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa)—Blooms April to June across much of the state. Opens at dusk in northern portions of Texas; flowers wither each day, replaced by new blossoms each evening. Elsewhere in the state, blooms stay open all day. Drought-tolerant. Also known as buttercup.
7. Texas bluebell (Eustoma grandiflorum)—Blooms June to September in moist areas in fields and prairies, and in drainage areas, except in Big Bend Country. Bluebells have virtually disappeared in many locations because of indiscriminate picking. Don’t pick them! One of the state’s loveliest flowers; an entire field is stunning. Flowers range from bluish-purple to white, or white with tinges of yellow or purple. Sometimes called prairie gentian and lira de San Pedro (Saint Peter’s lyre).
8. Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)—Blooms May through Sep-tember. A prairie species found throughout the state. Renowned Swedish naturalist Linnaeus (1701-1778) dedicated the genus to two of his botanist predecessors at the University of Uppsala, the father and son Olof Rudbeck. Hirta means “rough hairy” in Latin.
9. Mexican hat (Ratibida colum-naris)—Blooms May to July, later with favorable weather. Common throughout most of state. Named for its resemblance to the tradi-tional high-crowned, broad-brimmed Mexican sombrero.
10. Winecup (Callirhoë involucrata)—Blooms early spring into summer, in most parts of the state, except the west. Grows in sandy soils in open woods and scrublands. Mostly single flowers, on plants about six to eight inches high. A tall (two to three feet), branched variety bears many blossoms on one plant.
11. Spotted beebalm (Monarda spp.)—Tall erect annual or biennial that blooms May through August. Thrives in sandy or rocky pastures, prairies, plains, and meadows throughout Texas. Also called lemon-mint, horsemint, and wild berga-mot. Lin-naeus named the genus in honor of a Spanish writer and physician, Nicolás Monardes (1493-1588), whose work first introduced much of Europe to such American plants as balsam, coca, corn, passionflower, potatoes, sarsaparilla, sunflower, and tobacco.
12. Gayfeather (Liatris mucronata) Blooms August to December on well-drained soils in prairies, plains, limestone glades, hillsides, and on the edges and open areas of woodlands. Also called button snakeroot be-cause roots and underground stems have been used to treat rattlesnake bites. Butterflies and hummingbirds are frequent visitors, and goldfinches and other songbirds eat the seeds.
13. Blackfoot daisy (Melampodium leucanthum)—Blooms early spring through fall, thriving on calcareous soils of West and Central Texas. Low-growing perennial; blooms form a dense, compact mound. Other common Texas daisies are Tahoka daisy (Machaeranthera tanacetifolia), huisache daisy (Amblyolepsis setigera), chocolate daisy (Berlandiera lyrata), and sleepy daisy (Xanthisma texanum).
14. Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium spp.)—Blooms March-May, blanketing roadside pastures with blue to purple blooms and grasslike leaves on sunny spring days. Common in sandy forests of East Texas and on prairies of the Texas Gulf Coast.
15. White prickly poppy (Argemone albiflora)—Blooms profusely in April. Abundant, nettle-like plant of Central and South Texas. Plants may grow more than three feet tall. Close-ly related species are yellow, pink, and rose. The herb-age is so prickly that cattle leave it untouched even during severe droughts when they have grazed other plants to the ground.
16. Basketflower (Centaurea americana)—Blooms June and July from east Central Texas westward and north into the Panhandle; in the Trans-Pecos, sometimes blooms a second time in August. Also called shaving brush and star thistle (but isn’t prickly like a thistle).
17. Common sunflower (Helianthus annuus)—Blooms March through December in vacant lots, fields, pas-tures, open stream banks, and along roadsides and railroad tracks throughout the state. Texas boasts some 19 varieties of wild sunflowers, in-cluding Maximilian sunflower (Heli-anthus maximiliani) and swamp sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius).
From the May 2004 issue.