Gary Regner Photography

2017 TEXAS WILDFLOWER AND BLUEBONNET SIGHTINGS REPORT


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>March 26, 2017 - Brazos Valley / Hill Country Update

For those of you that are new to Texas, the wildflowers are looking good now in the Brazos Valley (area around Brenham) and in the Hill Country. The caveat is that they are limited almost exclusively to the roadsides only. Makes for an enjoyable drive, especially if you've never seen them before. That said, you will be hard pressed to find fields with any significant coverage. From a photographers perspective, there are no "WOW" scenes this year (at least that I've seen). The unseasonable heat and lack of rain in October are the most likely culprits. Late spring wildflowers may yet put on a good show in the fields, but I'm not very optomistic, I don't see masses of plants out there. Roadsides are about average, but not great. Some recommended drives for roadside wildflowers and scenery:

  • - Hwy 29 between Burnet and Llano: Bluebonnets and paintbrush, and always a nice scenic drive; and you can't beat the BBQ in Llano at Cooper's
  • - Hwy 16 north of Llano: roadside bluebonnets and paintbrush, decent coverage, fields lacking
  • - Hwy 71 north and south of Llano: roadside bluebonnets, decent coverage, again fields lacking

>March 20, 2017 - Spring Equinox

Today marks the first day of spring. Wildflowers are blooming all over Texas. South Texas appears below average this year, but there are three other wildflower areas that may make up for it. The Brazos Valley area, the Hill Country and the Ellis county area. All of these areas are showing blooms, but according to reports still look early.

The annual April Wildflower issue of Texas Highways magazine should be hitting newsstands soon, and features five images from our galleries.

>March 19, 2017 - South Texas Scouting Trip

On Saturday, I spent over 10 hours in the car and drove 361 miles scouting areas south of Austin and east and south of San Antonio. The highlight of my day was dinner at Sea Island Shrimp House in San Antonio on the way back. I wish I had better news to report, but the areas I visited had very few wildflowers compared to past years. Many areas were not just below average; they were the WORST I've ever seen. Wildflowers were blooming along the roads and in fields, just very few. They ranged from early blooms, to at or near peak. Grasses were high everywhere, at least a foot high, nearly 3 feet in other areas, and already going to seed. Grasses looked like they normally would in late April or early May. Is it still too early? Possibly, but I don't think so and I don't plan on revisiting the areas I scouted yesterday based on my experience. It was also very warm (87), which is way above average and concerning as well. Here is a detailed list of the areas I covered:

  • - US 183/SH 130 from Austin to Lockhart: there were good areas with thick coverage of bluebonnets along the stretch where US 183 and SH 130 run parallel, flowers look about a week from peak. Saw nothing in fields, only along the road.
  • - US 183 from Lockhart to Luling: spring usually brings familiar scarlet phlox to the area around Luling in addition to the persistent smell of sulfur, but this year there were very few wildflowers. Grasses are at least a foot high, up to 2 feet in areas.
  • - Arrow Ln in Luling: this little road can be spectacular in good years; there were wildflowers in the fields that looked at peak, but just sprinkled around, well below average
  • - IH 10 between US 183 and Tx 80: This stretch of the interstate is usually covered in thick bluebonnets and paintbrush, I was shocked to see virtually no wildflowers, only tall grass. Nothing in fields either.
  • - Tx 80 from IH 10 to Belmont: very few roadside blooms, saw a few fields with groundsel, but nothing else
  • - Alt US 90 from Belmont to Seguin: This stretch of road usually has bluebonnets and paintbrush and occasional fields heavily covered in wildflowers. This year, very few roadside, and fields were just "peppered". The flowers in the fields looked near peak. Again, grasses were high, but on close inspection, I did notice a lot of firewheel and Engelmann daisy plants yet to bloom. So, later spring may be good.
  • - Tx 123 south of Seguin: very few wildflowers, phlox is usually common in this area, but it was not this year. The only exception was a pretty nice field in front of the old barn at Fox Trotter Rd, which had nice phlox and groundsel
  • - Nockenut Rd: a few fields of groundsel, including one behind a tall game fence that was 10 acres or more, but little else
  • - FM 1681 at Nockenut Rd: some bluebonnets in fields, but sparse. This area can have massive displays of paintbrush in good years, I saw NONE this year.
  • - CR 437 to CR 434 to CR 421 to CR 427 to FM 3335: I saw one or two yards with Sandyland bluebonnets, that was basically it
  • - FM 3335 to CR 417 to US 87: nothing notable
  • - US 87 north to Sutherland Springs: another area that is usually good, very few wildflowers along the road, nothing in fields, only green grass
  • - FM 539 to Tx 97: pales in comparison to previous years, but there were a few fields with moderate coverage of groundsel and magenta phlox. Also some small fields of Sandyland bluebonnets that were at or near peak. Mostly just tall grass. This was the only road where I actually took a few pictures
  • - Tx 97 south to Floresville: again, a stretch of road that is usually good, almost nothing
  • - FM 536 east to US 281: few wildflowers roadside, I saw a couple fields of mixed wildflowers, bluebonnets, phlox and groundsel, but nothing worth taking the camera out for. Flowers looked near peak.
  • - US 281 north to Loop 1604 to Somerset: lots of grass, few wildflowers
  • - Somerset Rd south to Rossville Rd to Benton City Rd west ot Lytle: I've seen years were every field along this stretch was covered in wildflowers, mainly Sandyland bluebonnets. This year very little, with only a few yards with phlox and groundsel and a spattering of bluebonnets. Very disappointing. Looked at or near peak.
  • - IH 35 from Lytle to Natalia to Devine to Moore: shockingly few wildflowers along the road, just very high grass going to seed. WORST I've ever seen this area. What's more troubling were the numerous fields with tall dead grass from lack of grazing. Where have all the cattle gone? Grazing, mowing or fire are essential to clear the land in way for wildflowers. I saw only a few yards with wildflowers, nothing photogenic.
  • - FM 472, FM 3176, and FM 462: again, roads that have been great in previous years, almost nothing. Several of my favorite fields had been plowed under.
Only good field all day off FM 539 (3/18/17)

>March 18, 2017 - Desert SUPER BLOOM!

Record rainfalls in the desert southwest are producing massive displays of wildflowers not seen in over a decade. If you have the opportunity to visit Arizona or southern California now, you'll be treated to a potential once in a lifetime display of wildflowers. California poppies are producing huge carpets of bright orange in southern California, and sand verbena are producing masses of blooms in Arizona.

Head over to DesertUSA for the latest reports including some amazing pictures. Wish I could go!

>March 17, 2017 - St. Patricks Day!

A week of sunshine and warm temperatures has brought wildflowers out of their winter slumber and into a growth spurt. Reports are now coming in from all over Texas of annual wildflowers beginning to bloom. It is early, but fields of blooms are popping up, and looking better every day. Best reports so far are coming from south and east of San Antonio (based on photographic evidence).

In the Austin area, bluebonnets and paintbrush have now begun to bloom in fields, pastures and vacant lots, albeit early. This weekend I'll be scouting a large swath of south central Texas, and will have a report early next week.

>March 11, 2017 - Snooze Button

With such a warm February I had expected fields of wildflowers to be popping up, at least in the southern areas, but a cold front followed by an extended period of overcast days seems to have slowed down growth. Wildflowers need sun, and the forecast calls for a string of sunny days this coming week after rain this weekend. By next weekend we should see some good blooms. In 2012 there were already large fields of wildflowers south of San Antonio in Atascosa county by March 14. In the meantime, wildflowers continue to bloom along roadways in the Austin area in time for SXSW and Spring Break. Mountains Laurels are done blooming, but redbuds continue with many other trees now pollinating. Pollen levels are through the roof!

I've received numerous reports of very green conditions all over south Texas and the Hill Country. As long as moderate rain continues and it doesn't get too hot, this should be an average to above average season, and much better than last year.

>March 5, 2017 - Cool and Wet

So far March has brought more seasonable temperatures and some nice soaking rain. Next week is forecast to be above normal again, anywhere from 5-10 degrees, but some rain as well. Wildflowers are still blooming along roadways, including bluebonnets, greenthread and firewheels. Nothing yet in fields/pastures. Mountain laurels are on the decline, but redbuds continue to bloom. A scouting trip this weekend was a bust due to persistent rain.

Peak season still looks early this year, 1-2 weeks earlier than average. Weather will play a role, we need seasonable temperatures and rain, if it gets hot and dry, all bets are off. To get an idea of what blooms when, check out my galleries. Each image is dated. This year to me is most similar to 2012.

>February 25, 2017 - Early Annuals

A record breaking warm February has caused wildflowers to begin blooming early. Already greenthread is showing along roadways, and even bluebonnets are starting to bloom. Trees have been in full bloom for weeks including Mountain Laurels and Redbud. The Wildflower Center has issued their yearly forecast, indicating they believe the season will be early and perhaps extended. The weather going forward will determine how long the season lasts. By early to mid March, significant displays of annual wildflowers should be expected, especially in southern areas.

Stay tuned for reports, I expect my first scouting trip the first week of March.

>February 17, 2017 - Trees Blooming

After a strong El Nino in 2016, climate scientists declared a La Nina. Now apparently, the very short lived La Nina is over and neutral conditions exist. What does that mean for spring wildflowers? Who knows. What does matter is that there has been good rainfall during the fall that has continued all through winter. In central Texas we've seen a roller coaster of temperatures, from the coldest temperatures seen in years, to multiple record highs in the 80's. These warmer temperatures have caused trees to bloom early, the earliest I've seen since 2012. Mountain laurels have been blooming for a week or more, and redbuds have begun this week. This usually means we are a month or less from a significant annual wildflower bloom. I am very optimistic about the prospects for an average to above average bloom this year.

Stay tuned for reports once the wildflowers start popping in the next several weeks.

>January 15, 2017 - Spring 2017 Outlook

El Nino of 2016 is over, but there has been significant rain during the fall and winter to provide for a good wildflower show this spring. This winter has also brought more seasonable periods of cold temperatures as well, which can promote a better wildflower season.

Stay tuned for reports once the wildflowers start popping in the next several months.

>Looking Back

Here are some images from previous wildflower seasons to get an idea of what we may expect to see this coming spring.

2014 Texas Wildflower Season:
Edge of Darkness - Texas Hill Country Bluebonnets (4/16/2014) Silver Lining - Texas Hill Country Wildflower Sunset (4/15/2014) Muleshoe Sunset - Bluebonnets at Sunset in the Texas Hill Country (4/15/2014) Bluebonnet Lake - Texas Bluebonnets in the Hill Country (4/15/2014) Bluebonnet Road - Texas Bluebonnets in the Hill Country at Sunrise(4/16/2014) Turkey Bend Sunrise - Texas Bluebonnets in the Hill Country (4/19/2014) All Alone - Texas Bluebonnets in the Hill Country at Sunrise(4/16/2014) Spring Thunderstorm - Texas Wildflowers in Guadalupe County(4/7/2014)

2013 Texas Wildflower Season:
Magic Hour - Bluebonnets at Sunrise in Ellis County (4/21/2013) Engelmann's Daisies - Texas Hill Country Wildflowers in Llano County (5/4/2013) Crimson Sundown - Texas Hill Country Wildflowers in Llano County (5/11/2013) Tournesols - Wild Sunflowers at Sunset in Travis County, Texas (6/19/2013) Florid Meadow - Wildflowers at Sunset in Travis County, Texas (6/12/2013)

2012 Texas Wildflower Season:
Spring Medley - Wildflowers at Sunset in Frio County, Texas (3/14/2012) The Flowers of Floresville - Texas Wildflowers at Sunset in Wilson County, Texas (3/24/2012) Hillside Blues - Bluebonnets at Sunset in the Texas Hill Country (3/31/2012) Wildflower Fiesta - Phlox, bladderpod and bluebonnets in Guadalupe County, Texas (3/24/2012) Cerulean Jewels - Bluebonnets at sunset in the Texas Hill Country, San Saba County (3/30/2012) Alabaster and Gold - Texas Wildflowers, San Saba County (3/24/2012) Rays of the Sun - Texas Wildflowers, Bluebonnets in Llano County (4/8/2012) Wisps - Texas Wildflowers, Bluebonnets at Sunset in Llano County (4/6/2012) Llano Uplift - Texas Wildflowers, Bluebonnets at Sunset in Llano County (4/6/2012)

2010 Texas Wildflower Season:
Moonlight Serenade - Texas Wildflowers, Bluebonnets at Sunset in Atascosa County (4/6/2010) First Light - Texas Wildflowers at Sunrise in Frio County (4/9/2010) A Perfect Day- Texas Wildflowers, Bluebonnets at Sunset in Mason County (4/12/2010) God's Blessing - Texas Wildflowers surround a Church in Guadalupe County (4/9/2010) A Break in the Clouds - Texas Wildflowers at sunrise in Llano County (5/2/2010) Bluebonnet Creek - Texas Wildflowers, Bluebonnets line a creek in Mason County (4/25/2010) The Color of Spring - Paintbrush, phlox and prickly poppies bloom in profusion in Atascosa County (4/11/2010) Poppies - Prickly poppies and bluebonnets in the Texas Hill Country (4/12/2010)

Earlier Texas Wildflower Seasons:
Here Comes the Sun - Texas Wildflowers at sunrise in Burnet County (5/30/2007) Wildflowers and Windmill - Texas Wildflowers at dusk in Mason County (5/3/2007) Evening Sun - Bluebonnets bloom on the shores of Lake Travis at sunset (4/28/2007) Pink Clouds - Sunset on late spring wildflowers in Mason county, Texas (5/12/2007) Lake Bardwell Sunset - Spring wildflowers in Ellis county, Texas (4/21/2003)
Texas Wildflowers: Postcards | Notecards | Prints | Books | Bluebonnet Seed

OTHER WILDFLOWER REPORTS


Wildflower Haven - wildflower reports, maps and other useful information
Big Bend Report - wildflower conditions from DesertUSA website
2016 Wildflower Report- previous wildflower report from 2016
2015 Wildflower Report- previous wildflower report from 2015
2014 Wildflower Report- previous wildflower report from 2014
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
2009 Wildflower Report - previous wildflower report from 2009

WILDFLOWER FIELD GUIDES

Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country - Best field guide for identifying wildflowers in the Hill Country
Wildflowers of Texas - Best field guide for state wide wildflower identification
Wildflowers of Texas Field Guide - A great pocket sized field guide, many of my pictures are included
Wildflowers of Houston and Southeast Texas - Good resource for Houston area and east Texas
Wildflowers of the Western Plains: A Field Guide - A good guide for west Texas including Big Bend
Cactus of Texas Field Guide - A great pocket sized guide to Texas cacti, includes some of my pictures

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