Is It Illegal to Pick Bluebonnets?

It’s officially bluebonnet season in Texas.

For those outside of Texas, for a few weeks in March/April, the Texas highways and byways are awash in a multitude of wildflowers, the king of all flowers being the bluebonnet.

And getting the perfect bluebonnet picture of your kids becomes every Texan parent’s obsession (even if it means pulling over on the side of the highway with cars whizzing by at 75 mph to get the perfect shot).

The photo used in this post is my daughter Kelsey when she was two years old. It was taken in a field by my house that used to bloom with bluebonnets every year. But “they paved paradise and put up a Taco Bell” so we now take our annual picture in a different field.

You know what you will never, ever see in Texas? A bouquet of picked bluebonnets. Why? Because it’s illegal, of course. Every Texan knows that.

Or is it?

My first encounter with the “Don’t Mess with Bluebonnets” rule was 7th grade Texas history. My teacher took Texas history and culture very seriously. He was forever exasperated with the public school across the street that flew the Texas flag upside down almost every single day. I have a feeling the only times they flew it correctly was in response to an angry phone call from him.

He was convinced it was illegal to pick bluebonnets. And if he knew enough about Texas to know when the flag was upside down, he must have been right.

My kids have heard the same rule in school. I remember my then five year old Cate slapping then two year old Cara’s hand during a bluebonnet picture session because she was convinced  there were police officers lurking nearby waiting to arrest two year old flower pickers.

Both of our local papers, the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram recently took up the question of whether or not it is actually illegal to pick a bluebonnet.

And it will come as no surprise to Fort Worthers (or Fort Worthians, both terms are correct), the Dallas paper got the answer wrong.

From 1933 to 1973, it really was illegal in Texas to pick bluebonnets, punishable by a maximum fine of $10. Children were thankfully exempted from prosecution. The law unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) was erased in 1973 with a rewrite of the criminal code.

So today in 2018 it is not illegal to pick a bluebonnet. But it’s still a terrible idea. Bluebonnets, as wildflowers, need to have their seeds spread along the sides of the road, in fields, and in other areas to grow. When you pick a bunch of flowers, those seeds go with you instead of going back into next year’s blossoms.

So in the interest of protecting our most sacred flower, let’s continue to tell our children that it’s illegal to pick bluebonnets.

What’s your strategy for the perfect bluebonnet picture? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

Disclaimer: This website is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this website you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The website should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Copyright © 2018 by Siobhán Fitzpatrick Kratovil. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

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