TEXAS VIEW: Wildflowers offer Texans a show-stopping display

By The Lufkin News Writer

While traveling around the Lone Star State this spring, motorists are being treated to what the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department is calling “a show-stopping display of bright blues, vibrant pinks, deep reds and rich yellows.” And recent rains ensure that this explosion of color is only going to get better before the season ends.

Every region in Texas boasts some of the state’s 5,000 different species of wildflowers, including right here in East Texas, where trout lilies, trilliums, mayapple, violets, purple meadow-rue, groundsels, blue iris, wisteria, flowering dogwood, blue-star, spider lily, yellow jasmine, crossvine, jack-in-the-pulpits, Virginia sweetspire, hawthorns, spiderworts, white-flowered milkweed, azalea, fringe tree and silver bells are scattered across the Pineywoods.

And contrary to popular myth, it’s not illegal to pick wildflowers — including bluebonnets — in Texas, although there are laws against damaging rights-of-way or government property. So while picking a few flowers is probably OK, individuals should avoid digging up clumps of flowers or driving their vehicle into a field.

But far more popular than flower-picking these days (thanks to the droves of budding amateur photographers who’ve taken up the hobby in recent years) are photography sessions with friends and family among the many Technicolor floral displays along our Texas roadsides.

That’s why TPWD encourages Texans to exercise caution when taking wildflower photos on busy roadways by using emergency lights, being mindful of disturbing the wildlife resting or hiding in a particular location (such as nesting birds) and avoiding undesirable encounters with venomous snakes and fire ants. And our Texas State Parks offer picturesque settings for family wildflower photos away from busy roadways during this prime time for unique and diverse wildflower displays. More than 90 Texas State Parks present some of the best and safest places to view and photograph nature’s bounty of wildflowers and blooming shrubs and trees, including Huntsville State Park, where Redbud trees, bluebonnets and Dogwood blossoms are among some of the more recent TPWD staff sightings, according to a press release.

Citizens should also bear in mind before stopping on the side of that county road that some of these beautiful fields of flowers could be on private property, which means photographers and their subjects could be trespassing while shooting photos. But if you are shooting on the side of the road, be sure to take traffic laws into consideration for the safety of yourself and others by following these tips from the Texas Department of Public Safety:

■ Signal before leaving or entering the roadway.

■ Park off the roadway (off of improved shoulders), parallel to the road in the direction of traffic.

■ Don’t cross lanes of traffic on foot to get to the flowers.

■ Obey signs that prohibit parking on a particular stretch of roadway.

Remember that failure to follow the rules of the road could result in a ticket any time of year. So exercise caution and be practical while enjoying the Texas wildflowers during this particularly spectacular season.