Texas Wildflowers are Blooming

Texas's famous spring wildflowers are bursting out all over, and newcomers to Texas may be surprised to know those natural beauties aren't growing there by accident. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell explains.

In the 1960s, the late Ladybird Johnson, wife of President Lyndon Johnson, launched a nationwide highway beautification program that included planting wildflowers on roads and highways. Texas was one of the first states to join the program, and the Texas Department of Transportation -- TXDOT -- has been maintaining the roadsides and planting the flowers ever since. TXDOT Spokesman Mark Cross says a lot of people don't know that.

"We find that many people really aren't aware that TXDOT has a wildflower program, and that we seed rights-of-way throughout the state to produce wildflowers during this time of year."

Every winter, TXDOT puts out more than 30,000 pounds of wildflower seeds all over the state. Cross says they usually explode into full bloom in March and April and they are a sight to see, well worth the drive outside the city to see them and take pictures. Cross says contrary to popular belief, you can even pick some to take home.

"And there's nothing wrong with that but we encourage motorists to use extreme caution, and be as safe as possible, and make sure that they pull off into safe parking areas, and make sure that they're in rights-of-way that allow them to be a nice safe distance away from the high speed highways and roadways."

The wildflowers are at their most spectacular in east and southeast Texas, especially the Brazos River valley between Austin, Waco, Bryan-College Station, Navasota and Brenham. They only last a month or two and they usually die out in May, so you need to move fast. There's more information and maps, on our website KUHF dot org. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.