Every spring Texas is blanketed in a rainbow of colors as our beloved wildflowers bloom. With these seasonal sensations come rich and colorful histories, tales of inspiration, medicinal uses and folklore passed from generation to generation. Here are some tales of how the bluebonnets came to be.
The Texas Bluebonnet
Known for its bright blue color, the Bluebonnet is the star of springtime in Texas. One of the first flowers to pop up each spring, it has been described by many as “when the sky falls on Texas.“ One of the most popular legends to be passed down about the Bluebonnet originates with the Comanche tribe. As the story goes, the tribe was suffering after a long and bitter winter. To appease the Great Spirit, the tribes medicine men knew they would have to sacrifice their most valuable and prized possession. A young girl overheard this conversation and decided she would sacrifice hers – a doll that had been decorated with blue jay feathers. Once the tribe had gone to sleep, she burned her doll and scattered the ashes in the wind. The next morning when the tribe awoke, they saw the hillsides blanketed in sea of blue.
How about the rare Bluebonnets in shades of white and pink?
Much scarcer than their blue counterpart, the Bluebonnets in shades of white and pink have an interesting tale that comes from a Mexican legend. The legend of the pink Bluebonnet starts many, many years ago with two children playing in a field of Bluebonnets as their grandmother followed closely behind. The children found a white flower among all of the blue ones and were excited to show their grandmother. She explained to the children that on rare occasions an all white Bluebonnet will show up in the sea of blue. “Some people say that the Lone Star on the flag of Texas was inspired by a white Bluebonnet surrounded by a field of blue ones,” she said.
Then the grandson found a pink bluebonnet and asked about it. The grandmother paused and told the touching tale of this rare wildflower and how it illustrates the fight for Texas’ freedom. “My grandmother told me the special tale of the pink Bluebonnets when I was just a girl,” she said. “They seem to only grow downstream from the Alamo, and that is because of what happened there so long ago when Santa Anna’s army took over Texas in the bloody Battle of the Alamo. These flowers had once been white, but so much blood had been shed that it took on the tint and turned the flowers pink. That is why you only find the pink ones near the river downstream from the the old mission,” she said. “The next time you see a pink Bluebonnet, remember that it is more than just a pretty flower, it is a symbol of to remind us of those who died so that Texas could be free.”
You may find a pink Bluebonnet south of downtown San Antonio, but chances are still rare. Luckily, the Texas Cooperative Extension domesticated the pink Bluebonnet into a bedding plant so you can plant some of your very own and honor those who gave their lives for Texas to be free!