South Llano River State Park • Photo © Tim Fitzharris / Minden Pictures
Parks in Bloom
Texas state parks offer a chance to enjoy bounteous blooms away from busy highways.
Spectacular displays of blue, pink, red and yellow will soon be blanketing the state. Texas state parks offer picturesque settings for family photos of this year’s parade of wildflowers away from busy roadways.
Texas is home to nearly 6,000 species of plants; spring rains spur a colorful wildflower explosion from spring through late fall. Eighty-eight Texas state parks, stretching across the state from the mountains of West Texas to the wetlands in the east, offer some of the best and safest places to view and photograph nature’s bounty of wildflowers, blooming shrubs and trees.
Park visitors should always remember to exercise caution when taking wildflower photos. Use your vehicle’s emergency flashers on busy roadways and be mindful of disturbing wildlife resting or hiding in the vegetation, such as nesting birds. Avoid undesirable encounters with venomous snakes and fire ants.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Flickr page is regularly updated with wildflower sightings from state parks and wildlife management areas across the state, including Franklin Mountains State Park, Government Canyon State Natural Area and Matador Wildlife Management Area.
Park visitors can share their wildflower pictures — and see what’s blooming around the state — on TPWD Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Inks Lake State Park • Photo by Chase Fountain / TPWD
In CENTRAL TEXAS, common wildflower sightings include the iconic bluebonnet, Texas star, blue sage, Indian blanket, Mexican hat, winecup, perfume ball, antelope horn milkweed, sundrop and white rain lily, to name just a few.
Chaparral WMA • Photo by TPWD
The coastal texas prairies, barrier islands and south texas sand sheet can expect many types of flowers, including the prairie nymph, betony-leaf mistflower, silverleaf sunflower, seaside goldenrod, woolly white, longbract wild indigo, coralbean, Rio Grande greenthread, saltmarsh mallow, beach morning glory and side-cluster milkweed.
Caddo Lake State Park • Photo by Earl Nottingham / TPWD
The Pineywoods’ hardwood slopes and bottomland forest in EAST TEXAS provide a home for trout lilies, violets, wisteria, flowering dogwood, yellow jasmine, jack-in-the-pulpit, hawthorn, Canada garlic and blue iris. Upland and wetland pine savannas are usually dominated by old plainsman, candy root, prairie snoutbean, Queen’s delight, false dragonhead, Carolina larkspur, bullnettle and toad flax.
Cedar Hill State Park • Photo by TPWD
In NORTH TEXAS, the landscape can be generous with brown-eyed Susan, American basket-flower, Barbara’s buttons, American wild carrot, showy evening primrose, Texas prairie parsley, buttercups, snakeherb and green milkweeds.
Big Bend Ranch State Park • Photo by Earl Nottingham / TPWD
The Big Bend region of WEST TEXAS can display several crinklemat species, yerba raton, dogweed, paperflower, limoncillo, several species of salvias, purple woolly locoweed, lechuguilla, fragrant yellow huisache, cenizo, yuccas and many cactus species along the Rio Grande’s River Road and at Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park.
» Like this story? If you enjoy reading articles like this, subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine.