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Texas Bluebonnets


Announcer: It's no wonder that the bluebonnet is our great state flower. In the springtime that blanket of blue can be breathtaking.

Announcer: You know of course how bluebonnets got their name, but the fact is they don't all come in blue. In an acre of bluebonnets maybe you'll be lucky enough to spot a white one. It's a beautiful flower, but it's extremely rare. In the wild it occurs only once in every ten million bluebonnets. And the chance of finding a pink bluebonnet, well it's one in a hundred million. Most of our country's botanists have gone their entire careers; they've never seen a pink bluebonnet. Well we're happy to show you the site of a lifetime.

Jerry: Well, of course, almost anybody can grow blue bluebonnets I guess, but these pink sure are hard to beat.

Announcer: Leave it to our friend Dr. Jerry Parsons. Ever since the sesqui-centennial Jerry's dreamed of red and white and blue bluebonnets. The key, of course, is to find enough of those rare white bluebonnets to cross-pollinate each other and to produce a seed for an entire crop of white bluebonnets.

Jerry: And then of course as we keep segregating and selecting them down maybe we can even get to the point that we have a dark red, and that's what we're after eventually. That's close to red right there. That's probably the best one.

Announcer: You're looking at the birthplace of every white bluebonnet sold in the world. It's a tiny patch of cornfield outside of San Antonio. This is where Jerry and the Texas Agricultural Extension Service first succeeded in isolating the white bluebonnet. And last year the pink bluebonnet, which seeded these three acres south of Uvalde.

Jerry: As you look out across this field it looks like there may be a lot of these everywhere. Especially if people have them they think everybody's got them. But you're looking at the only field of commercially planted pink bluebonnets in the world. Definitely the only plants that will come back and produce seed of pink bluebonnets. So it's kind of spectacular to realize you're standing in all that's in the world of this type of pink bluebonnet.

Jerry: There have been no crosses made. This is something that people kind of get confused on. They say, "Well, you know, you've messed around with the blue bluebonnet." No, all we've done is select them. And we've found that there are dark pinks, darker pinks, hopefully red. We have found maroon. We have found lavender.

Announcer: Selecting though means weeding out a field of pink bluebonnets to isolate the new fellows. I might tell you that's mighty hard for a guy who used to dream of pink bluebonnets.

Jerry: You know, as we're pulling these up by the truckloads and throwing them in the garbage can I've often made the statement ?I've seen the day I'd crawl across Texas to get this one right here.' Just this one, just this one plant.

Jerry: This is fun. This is fun.

Announcer: At first spending time with Jerry and his top-secret bluebonnet patch is kind of like watching a kid in a candy store.

[Jerry makes whooping noises.]

Announcer: But walking among rows and rows of some of the rarest plants on earth, looking for that one in a billion bluebonnet, well...

Jerry: You get out there, it gets in your blood and you go nuts over it. I'm telling you. You never get to seed or name a plant that has never been seen before. It just doesn't happen. Even you, just standing there looking at that. We're talking probably only twenty or thirty people on earth have ever seen that plant. So, you know, that kind of makes you think. Maybe that you're a little bit important anyway.

[Jerry laughs]

Jerry: We're not going to rest until the world's covered with them.

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