Texas State Flower
Adoption of the Texas State Flower
Perhaps inspired by the National Garland of Flowers of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Texas began the work of naming an official state flower in 1901. Historical records note three serious contenders for the position.
The open cotton boll was promoted by Legislator Phil Clement of Mills, Texas. Cotton was king in Texas in 1901 and he referred to his nomination as the "white rose of commerce." Though cotton was big business, the cotton boll as state flower didn't receive big support in the Legislature.
State Representative John Nance Garner of Uvalde would become Vice-President of the United States under Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932. But in 1901, he was promoting the flower of the prickly pear cactus as the best choice for the title of official state flower of Texas. He praised the hardy durability of the cactus and the "orchid-like" beauty of its flowers. John Nance Garner's nomination did not win the approval of the Texas Legislature, but his enthusiasm for the plant earned him the nickname of "Cactus Jack" which stayed with him his entire life.
John Green, of Cuero suggested the bluebonnet. His nomination was clarified by a group of Texas women.
The chapter of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in Texas suggested that the bluebonnet would represent the State of Texas most appropriately as its official state flower. To punctuate their suggestion, they acquired a bluebonnet painting by Miss Mode Walker of Austin and presented it to the Legislature.
The bill designating the blue bonnet or buffalo clover (Lupinus subcarnosus) as the official state flower of Texas was approved by the Regular Session of the Twenty-seventh Legislature, convened at the City of Austin and was signed by Governor Joseph D. Sayers on March 7, 1901. On this day, a seventy-year debate over which species should really be the state flower of Texas began.
The debate centered on the species of bluebonnet chosen to represent the state. The Legislators that approved Lupinus subcarnosus as the official flower were not aware that several varieties of Lupinus grew in the state. The variety adopted grows in the sandy, rolling hills of coastal and southern Texas. It was not as common as other varieties and some thought that its small, dainty blossoms were not the most attractive.
The issue was debated for 70 years. Favorites emerged, among them the Lupinus texensis, common throughout central Texas and producing big, bold deep blue blossoms in the spring. The Legislature took their time.
When they finally did get around to addressing the issue in 1971, they did so by concurrent resolution, approved on March 8, 1971, to include Lupinus Texensis and, gun-shy, " any other variety of bluebonnet not heretofore recorded."
Essentially, all bluebonnets found in Texas are now considered the official flower of the state. Ostensibly, this would also include the pink and white varieties found in the state and under development.
The bluebonnet is also known as buffalo clover, wolf flower and el conejo (Spanish for "the rabbit").
The Texas Statutes
The following information is excerpted from the Texas Statutes, Government Code, Title 11, Chapter 3101, Section 3101.008.
Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1420, § 7.001, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.
Plant Profile for Lupinus subcarnosus Hook. (Texas bluebonnet): USDA, NRCS. 2004. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.
Plant Profile for Lupinus texensis Hook. (Texas lupine): USDA, NRCS. 2004. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.
Texas Bluebonnets - Texas Pride: by Jerry M. Parsons, Steve George, and Greg Grant: Texas Cooperative Extension (Posted on Texas A&M University System: Aggie Horticultural Network)
State Flower List: List of all of the state flowers.
State Birds & Flowers 1000-pc Puzzle: Created at the request of The National Wildlife Federation this design is a beautiful and informative puzzle featuring every state bird perched on the appropriate state flower.
State Birds and Flowers Coloring Book by Annika Bernhard - 51 accurately detailed, copyright-free renderings include national bird (eagle) and flower (rose) plus 50 state birds and flowers.
U. S. State Flowers in Cross Stitch by Gerda Bengtsson - Botanically correct cross stitch designs of state flowers of the 50 States.
Quilting Flowers of the States by Sue Harvey - A lovely 12-inch flower block for each of the 50 states. Techniques used are piecing, appliqué, paper-piecing and three-dimensional techniques.
Plants, Seeds & Flowers: Bulbs, seeds, plants, fertilizer, plant containers and more.
Gardening Tools: Pruners, rakes, shovels, hoes, trowels, cultivators and tillers, greenhouses, yard carts and more.
State Names, Seals, Flags, and Symbols: A Historical Guide, Third Edition - Benjamin F. Shearer and Barbara S. Shearer, Greenwood Press, 2002
State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers and Other Symbols: A Study based on historical documents giving the origin and significance of the state names, nicknames, mottoes, seals, flowers, birds, songs, and descriptive comments on the capitol buildings and on some of the leading state histories, Revised Edition - George Earlie Shankle, Ph.D., The H.W. Wilson Company, 1938 (Reprint Services Corp. 1971)
Source: Texas Statutes, (http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/statutes/statutes.html), September 12, 2005
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