While all of us Texans admire the majesty of our state flower during their blooming season each year, we all seem to share the belief that picking and removing the bonnet is wrong. I knew this to be true from a very young age. Like an old folk tale, my family would insist that true Texans don’t pick the beautiful flower, and that it was certainly illegal to do so. I respected my Texan culture, so I never questioned this ordinance protecting our flower. After pulling over to take a closer look at the Bluebonnet blankets hugging the country highway, I decided to also take a closer look at this supposed law. Something about this season’s bloom made me realize that, now that I’m an adult, I’ve never actually fact-checked what so many Texans assume. It seemed to me that I had yet to actually see any proof. I (of course) brought my dogs Bailey Boo and Kassie with me to go see the wild bonnets off the freeway [pictured above.] They sure didn’t seem to mind uprooting a few of the precious stalks as they pranced back to my car. Maybe the Shih Tzu’s know something I don’t… What do you think? Is it illegal to pick Bluebonnets in Texas?
I took these questions to Google, and, as it turns out, picking the wildflower isn’t illegal at all. According to the Texas Department of Transportation’s website, there is no law against it. However, there are laws against criminal trespass, so make sure you’re not on private property when you stop to take your annual kids-in-the-bluebonnets photo. Additionally, there are laws against damaging or destroying rights-of-way and government property, so don’t dig up big clumps or drive your car through them. Be careful when slowing down and pulling off the road to get to the good spots, as there are laws against impeding traffic as well. Pick an area with light traffic conditions. While staying parallel to the direction of traffic, park a little further than the shoulder. Never cross major roads, and always obey signs that prohibit parking on a particular stretch of roadway/property.
(You can find bluebonnets along highway 71 between Austin and Bastrop. Other good spots in Bastrop include: near Tahitian Village, down highway 304 just past Jacob’s Landing, and Cassena Ranch.)
The Bluebonnet is truly a remarkable piece of Texan history and culture. Please be responsible if you choose to pick the flowers. They may be wildflowers, but they were planted along the highways by Texan ancestors who hoped the Lone Star State would shine with blue and white beauty for generations to come!