This article appeared in the April 2002 web issue of Horticulture Update,
edited by Douglas F. Welsh, Ph.D., and produced by Extension Horticulture,
Texas Cooperative Extension, The Texas A&M University System, College Station, Texas.

Wildflower Wheel Identifies
Texas Wildflowers

By Diane Bowen
Ag Publications, Texas A&M University

With the wildflower season approaching, nature lovers can learn more about Texas’ abundant roadside beauties with the identification wheel, “Texas Wildflowers.”

The wheel was created to help people identify the wildflowers they see along the highways each year. Produced by the Texas Agricultural Extension Service, the wheel features photographs of 16 of the state’s most common wildflowers: black-eyed Susan, bluebonnet, coreopsis, Drummond phlox, gayfeather, Indian blaket, Indian paintbrush, lemon mint, Maximillan sunflowers, mealy cup sage, Mexican hat, pink evening primrose, verbena, bluebell, standing cypress and wine cup.

To help gardeners trying to grow wildflowers, the wheel features both the blossom and the seedling for each species.

“Texas has a worldwide reputation for its wildflowers,” said Doug Welsh, Extension horticulturist.”The wildflower wheel will help Texans, new and old, identify and grow these Lone Star natives.” The wheels detail information about wildflowers, such as the fact that Texas has no law that specifically makes it illegal to pick wildflowers. But it is illegal to trespass on private property or to damage government property (including road rights-of-way). Motorists should not dig up clumps of flowers or drive over them so that others can enjoy them also.

To beautify roadsides, the Texas Department of Transportation sows more than 60,000 pounds of wildflower seeds along highways each fall.

In the past, wildflowers have been used for medicinal purposes: Native Americans made tea from plains coreopsis to strengthen their blood. Gayfeather is also called snakeroot because part of it was once used to treat snakebites. Pioneers brewed a cough medicine from lemon mint. A number of Texas wildflowers are endangered species. One of them, the Navasota ladies’-tresses, grows only in Grimes County.

The wheel also provides tips for growing wildflowers, including:

  • Fall is the best time to plant wildflowers.
  • Select a site that drains well and gets at least five hours of sunlight each day.
  • Remove the vegetation from the site.
  • Rake or lightly till the soil surface to a depth of one inch.
  • Thoroughly mix one part wildflower seed with four parts sand or potting soil.
  • Scatter the seeds uniformly over the prepared area.
  • Press the seeds into the soil by walking over the area. Do not cover the seeds any deeper than l/16 inch. Some seeds will remain visible, but to germinate they must be in firm contact with the soil.
  • Although most wildflowers do well without regular watering, it’s a good idea to give them a drink during a prolonged dry spell.

The wheel can be viewed and ordered {cost $10.95) on the Web at:

Wildflower Wheel