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>2014 TEXAS WILDFLOWER AND BLUEBONNET SIGHTINGS REPORT

RATING SYSTEM
  • 0 - Poor: very few wildflowers; not recommended
  • 1 - Below Average: some scattered patches
  • 2 - Average: light coverage
  • 3 - Good: moderate coverage
  • 4 - Very Good: some areas of heavy coverage
  • 5 - Excellent: common areas of heavy to solid coverage; MUST SEE

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    >April 11, 2014 - Seguin/Luling and Austin Update

    Made a trip again Friday afternoon with Seguin area as my final destination. Bluebonnets south of Luling and east of Seguin have dramatically faded, with a majority having now gone to seed. Photographic opportunities in the areas I visited have passed. Firewheels have begun to bloom but will not be nearly as abundant as the bluebonnets were. In Austin the bluebonnets are at peak now and will likely decline rapidly without rain.
  • Toll 130 from Pflugerville to Hwy 290 (Manor) - some bluebonnets, but nothing special [Rating 1]
  • Hwy 290 from Manor to Elgin - several large fields of bluebonnets just east of Manor, but no good places to stop for photography [Rating 3-4]
  • FM 1704 south from Elgin - several nice fields of mixed flowers just south of Elgin [Rating 2-3]
  • FM 969 east to Hwy 71 (Bastrop) - scattered wildflowers and some fields of bluebonnets, but the grass is overtaking them [Rating 2-3]
  • TX 20 south from Hwy 71 to McMahan - scattered wildflowers with a lot of paintbrush, nothing spectacular. There were several large fields of painbrush near Red Rock but no good opportunities for photography. [Rating 2-3]
  • FM 713 east from TX 20 to TX 304 - not a lot of wildflowers except along the road dominated by paintbrush. [Rating 0-2]
  • TX 304 south to IH 10 - not much to report, scattered wildflowers [Rating 0-2]
  • IH 10 west from TX 304 to Luling - nice displays of paintbrush and firewheels along the interstate [Rating 3-4]
  • TX 80 south to Belmont (Jct US 90 Alt) - bluebonnets and assorted wildflowers, but bluebonnets are in rapid decline, not very photogenic. [Ratin 1-2]
  • Belmont area: US 90 Alt, FM 1150, Nixon Rd, Dix Rd, Nash Creek Rd, FM 466 - assorted wildflowers but not nearly as nice as a week ago. Bluebonnets are largely gone. Some nice fields of prickly poppy in Belmont.

  • >April 7, 2014 - Stockdale/Seguin area

    Headed south again Monday to explore the area around Seguin and Stockdale. The following is a synopsis of the route I took with notes on what I observed:
  • TX 123 S from San Marcos to Seguin - not a whole lot of wildflowers until you get to Seguin, mostly cropland [Rating 0]
  • TX 123 S from Seguin to FM 1681 north of Stockdale - more and more wildflowers alond this route, but with the oil boom this road is busy [Rating 2-3]
  • FM 1681 E from Jct TX 123 to Union Valley - many good displays of a variety of wildflowers including bluebonnets, paintbrush, verbena, crown tickseed, prickly poppy, and phlox [Rating 4]
  • FM 466 E from Jct FM 1117 to TX 80 - another great route that gets best closer to TX 80, many good photo ops along this road with a variety of wildflowers including bluebonnets, phlox, paintbrush, bladderpod, prickly poppy, lazy daisies and groundsel [Rating 3-4]

  • Thunderstorm at sunset, Guadalupe county [4/7/14] FM 466 east of Seguin  [4/7/14] FM 1681 near Union Valley, Wilson county [4/7/14] FM 466 east of Seguin  [4/7/14] Thunderstorm at sunset, Guadalupe county [4/7/14]

    >April 6, 2014 - Heading South

    Based on the weather report I headed south towards Seguin. The following is a synopsis of the route I took with notes on what I observed:
  • US 183 S from IH 35 to Austin Berstrom International Airport - lots of paintbrush and bluebonnets along the road, the most I've ever seen in decades, makes for a pretty drive but not many photo ops
  • US 183 S to Lockhart - some areas with bluebonnets in fields, a really nice one just north of Lockhart
  • US 183 from Lockhart to Luling - you begin to see more and more wildflowers: bluebonnets, paintbrush, phlox, but not as good as recent years
  • US 183 from Luling to Gonzales - nice fields just south of IH 10 near Palmetto state park
  • Luling area - explored some county roads, some nice displays but not as good as a few years back
  • Headed to Seguin via US 90 parallel to IH 10 - nice displays along this road

  • Hwy 90 near Seguin, Guadalupe county [4/6/14] Hwy 90 near Seguin, Guadalupe county [4/6/14] Hwy 90 near Seguin, Guadalupe county [4/6/14] IH 10 and US 183 near Luling [4/6/14]

    >April 5, 2014 - Exploring East of Temple

    I decided to explore the area east of Temple that received 10-20+ inches of rain last October; eastern Bell and Falls counties. I've never been through this area in the spring but thought I'd give it a try since they were in the rain "bullseye" last fall. I found this area to be largely agricultural crop land, so unfortunately not a great deal of wildflowers. The area is, however, a lush, verdant green. You can really tell they received abundant rainfall. The following is a synopsis of the route I took with notes on what I observed:
  • Hwy 79 East from Round Rock to Taylor - a few fields of bluebonnets, but mostly crop land
  • Hwy 95 North to FM 2268 East - predominantly agricultural, not many wildflowers
  • FM 437 North - again mostly crop land but I did find a nice field of Texas Star
  • Tx 53 East - some paintbrush and bluebonnets but mostly roadside
  • Hwy 77 S to FM 413 East - not much until you hit FM 2027
  • FM 2027 N from FM 413 to Cedar Springs - many huge fields of yellow groundsel, this area is "Groundsel Heaven". Also in bloom, but in far fewer numbers, were toadflax, paintbrush, multicolored phlox, and sandwort. This was the best area of the day.
  • FM 413 E to Kosse - some Sandyland bluebonnets and paintbrush mainly along the roads, also some fields of groundsel
  • Made my way back to Temple via Tx 7, Tx 320 and Tx 53 - not a lot to see, some bluebonnets and paintbrush roadside

  • Texas star, Milam county [4/5/14] Groundsel, Wilderville [4/5/14] Groundsel, Falls county [4/5/14]

    >April 5, 2014 - Peak in Austin Area

    Bluebonnets look to be at or near peak here in Austin now. Much needed rain is forecast for this weekend and will help extend the bloom if it materializes. I'll be scouting north and south of Austin this weekend. Stay tuned for reports early next week. In the meantime, WildflowerHaven's Facebook page has some great reports, check it out.

    >April 2, 2014 - April Fools

    Don't despair all you bluebonnet lovers out there. Yesterday's post was an April Fools joke. Bluebonnets that started out blue should remain that way.

    >Plant Virus Attacks Texas Bluebonnets

    April 1, 2014
    College Station, TX
    – Researchers at Texas A&M University have isolated a virus that attacks the state’s wildflower, the bluebonnet. This newly discovered virus has been classified as a lupine mosaic virus (LMV 41C) and is closely related to the tobacco mosaic virus (TMV). Although the vector for transmission has yet to be verified, due to the rapid spread of the infection, scientists suspect multiple vectors including insects such as an aphids or leafhoppers and soil-borne nematodes. The insects acquire and transmit the virus by feeding on infected plants. Once plants are infected, nematodes acquire the infection by feeding on infected roots. Nematodes then rapidly spread the infection to neighboring plants through the soil.

    Bluebonnet plants seem to be more susceptible to infection during dry periods, and the ongoing drought is contributing to the rapid spread of the virus across the state. Infected plants don’t seem to be affected adversely except for one notable side-effect: the flowers turn from blue to pink. Once a stand of bluebonnets is infected, it can take only a few days for all the flowers to turn pink. Scientists are unsure what effect this will have on seed production, and whether or not the pink coloration will be passed on to later generations.

    Dr. Wayne Mrazek, Ph.D., Senior Research Botanist and head of the Molecular Genetic Analysis Department, urges people to get out and enjoy the “blue”bonnets while they remain true to their name. He notes that we may soon have to change the name of this iconic wildflower to “pinkbonnet”.

    This image shows a field of bluebonnets in Atascosa county that has been infected.
    Bluebonnet infection [April Fools]

    >March 31, 2014 - Rainfall Analysis

    Bluebonnets have made significant progress over the last several days with warmer temperatures and plenty of sunshine. Many fields around Austin are now looking to be near full bloom and should only improve over the next week or two.

    The map below represents rainfall during October overlayed on the Texas Highway map. Rainfall analysis from October seems to correlate well with where the heaviest bluebonnet concentrations have been spotted so far. On the map, the pink (10-15 inches), grey (15-20 inches) and white (20+ inches) areas saw the heaviest rainfall last October. The red areas indicate 5-10 inches, and the yellow and orange areas indicate less than 5 inches of rain during October. The greens represent an inch of rain or less.

    Propects look the best for Comal, Caldwell, Hayes, Travis, and Bastrop counties in Central Texas. In the Brazos Valley look to Austin, Colorado and Waller counties. Further north, the areas north and east of Temple look promising as well in Limestone, Falls and Freestone counties.
    October 2013 Rain Map

    >March 29, 2014 - Banner Year for Austin?

    Bluebonnets and painbrush are appearing in numbers not seen in many years in Austin this year. The copious rainfall in September and October that resulted in widespread flooding seems to have spurred a mass bloom of wildflowers. There should be no shortage of places to get your photos in the bluebonnets this year for Austinites. We should be at peak in a week or two.

    Going further south towards San Antonio the bluebonnets are far less numerous especially in the north and northwest part of town. I visited this area on 3/28 and it was dry with few bluebonnets.

    Reports coming in from east of San Antonio are far more promising, with good reports coming in from the Stockdale, Floresville, and New Berlin areas. Head over to WildflowerHaven for a detailed report.

    >March 24, 2014 - Central Texas Update

    Spring is in full swing in the Austin area. Redbuds continue to bloom along with Mexican Buckeye and several other native trees including Red Oak. Live oaks for the most part are not yet in bloom. What's noticably missing are the Mountain Laurels; close inspection of several plants shows that the flower buds appear to have succumbed to a late freeze. Looks like we may have to wait another year here in Austin for the familiar aroma of grape kool aid. Bluebonnets continue to pop up all over town, and it appears that the bluebonnet bloom will be better than last spring, albeit later due to cooler temperatures so far this year. Most of the bluebonnets are still in early bloom. I expect the peak bluebonnet season to be several weeks later than what we've seen during the last several years.

    >March 20, 2014 - First Day of Spring

    Spring has officially arrived and wildflowers are in bloom all over central Texas. Redbuds are in full bloom all over the Austin area and bluebonnets are beginning to show along the roadways. Bluebonnets and paintbrush have been spotted along Mopac in early bloom. Along IH 35 the bluebonnets are further along due to warmer temperatures along the roadway. The bad news this year is that the most common plant in bloom right now is invasive yellow mustard, and it far outnumbers our native wildflowers.

    >March 12, 2014 - Wildflower Outlook

    The LBJ Wildflower Center has released their forecast for 2014 predicting a "good wildflower season". Peaks this year, however, will likely be later than during the last several years due to the unusually cold winter.
    Wildflower Center Forecast

    >March 1, 2014 - Early Spring Underway

    Despite an impending arctic cold front late this weekend that will bring several more overnight freezes to central Texas, the recent warmer temperatures have prompted trees to put on leaves, bloom and pollinate. Oak has joined the pollen count replacing cedar for allergy sufferers. Many redbuds are blooming around Austin and central Texas along with other non-native trees. Many invasive weeds are also blooming, however, bluebonnets are yet to come. Rain this week should help the native wildflowers. Keep tuned for reports, we should start seeing wildflowers in bloom near San Antonio and south Texas.

    >February 25, 2014 - Spring is Upon Us

    Recent warm temperatures over the last several weeks have prompted trees to start budding and pollinate. Redbuds have been spotted in early bloom and mountain laurels are forming flower spikes here in the Austin area. Some wildflowers have begun to bloom as well, but mainly invasives such as invasive mustard, henbit, dandelions and pin clover. Good news is that rain is forecast for the coming week. It won't be long now before we see bluebonnets in bloom. Look for the area south of San Antonio to be first.

    >February 1, 2014 - Spring 2014 Outlook

    Fall rainfall for much of Texas, especially prime bluebonnet areas, looked great. Bad news is that there has been little rainfall this winter and the longterm forecast is not looking great at this time. All of the prime areas for bluebonnets received good rainfall September-November, covering most or part of each zone: south central Texas (south east and west of San Antonio), the Brazos River Valley area (in and around Brenham), the Hill Country (west of Austin) and Ellis county (south of Dallas).

    More rain is needed between now and March, and the amount will generally determine which areas are best. We will see wildflowers this year, just like every year, but whether or not this is a "banner" year is still to be determined by Mother Nature.
    Wildflower Postcards | Wildflower Notecards | Wildflower Prints | Bluebonnet Seed | Wildflower Books

    > OTHER WILDFLOWER REPORTS

    Wild About Texas Wildflowers - includes user-submitted wildflower reports
    Wildflower Haven - wildflower reports, maps and other useful information
    TxDOT Wildflower Hotline - wildflower reports and maps from the TX Dept of Transportation
    Big Bend Report - wildflower conditions from DesertUSA website
    2013 Wildflower Report - previous wildflower report from 2013
    2012 Wildflower Report - previous wildflower report from 2012
    2011 Wildflower Report - previous wildflower report from 2011
    2010 Wildflower Report - previous wildflower report from 2010

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