Texas forecasts good spring for wildflowers

Associated PressMarch 15, 2014 

Texas Wildflower Forecast

A trout lily blooms during a wildflower survey at Breckenridge Park in Richardson, Texas. Wildflower spotters across the state report to Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at University of Texas, Austin.

LM OTERO — AP

— A smattering of green sprouting through brown leaves blanketing the ground among barren trees at a North Texas park signal the colorful display that will soon come with the spring wildflower season, which experts say should feature good showings in parts of the state.

As wildflower spotter Jim Varnum made his way through Breckinridge Park in the Dallas suburb of Richardson in early March, he pointed out the beginnings of several wildflowers. Examining the leaves of golden alexanders, which should bloom in April, he said, “This will put up a stem about 2 feet tall and have large clusters of yellow flowers.”

The wildflower season might be delayed by cool weather in parts of the state, but many areas should have good blooms thanks to ample fall and winter precipitation, says the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas-Austin.

A good season

“In some patches it could be spectacular, but overall, averaging out to a good season,” said botanist Damon Waitt.

The center makes its annual forecast by assessing weather and rain patterns and relying on staffers and a dozen or so wildflower spotters across the state, including Varnum, to report what they see in their regions.

Waitt said fall percipitation was average or below average across the state, so displays are expected to vary. Also, he said, cold snaps in March could affect the wildflowers.

“If the sun doesn’t come out in March and we have gray skies and cold temperatures at night, then things are just going to kind of peter out,” he said. “So a lot of variables still in play, but I’d feel comfortable saying there’s going to be some really good shows. It’s just going to be patchy distribution throughout the state.”

Waitt said peak periods for wildflowers vary, but generally run from the last week of March into late May.

Many popular wildflowers – including bluebonnets, Indian blanket and Texas star – establish themselves in the winter as rosettes, a cluster of leaves spread close to the ground, keeping in heat before temperatures climb.

“We’re getting a lot of reports of people seeing the bluebonnet rosettes out there, and they look healthy,” Waitt said.

At Breckinridge Park, trout lilies, one of the season’s first wildflowers, can be seen with their delicate white blooms. Varnum, who monitors wildflower growth in the Dallas area and beyond, said he expects a good wildflower season in the area.

“I think it will be into April before we start seeing a lot of things,” said Varnum, who is a Texas Master Naturalist, a certification sponsored by state agencies to train volunteers on natural resources.

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