Special to the Reporter

AUSTIN — Widespread fall and winter precipitation should make for an excellent wildflower season in much of Texas.

That’s according to Dr. Damon Waitt, senior botanist of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin.

"The return of El Niño last summer brought much needed relief from the extraordinary drought conditions we have been experiencing since the fall of 2007," Waitt said. He noted that the ocean-driven weather system brought extensive, consistent rain from mid-fall into spring.

Unusually heavy snows in February also brought precipitation.

"These rainfall patterns should make for exceptional early and late spring wildflower displays in many regions of Texas,” Waitt said.

Texas bluebonnets are prepping to bloom along roadways and in gardens in Somervell County. Bluebonnets already have been sighted in the Texas Hill Country around San Antonio, New Braunfels and Austin.

Drummond phlox, another winter annual that grows in late fall-early winter and blooms in early spring, also should put on a dramatic show.

North Texas wildflowers will lag behind a few weeks because of its cooler weather, including last weekend’s dusting of snow. Besides Drummond phlox and Texas bluebonnet, other wildflowers to look for along roadsides and in fields include pink evening primrose, Indian paintbrush and prairie verbena.

Thousands of Texas bluebonnets will flower in upcoming weeks in the gardens and meadows of the Wildflower Center. It provides comfortable, safe spots for Texans' traditional baby-in-the-bluebonnets picture.

The center's extensive online resources also include a wildflower quiz to test participants' skill at identifying 12 Texas natives: http://www.wildflower.org/collections/quiz.php

To learn more about North American wildflowers, search the Wildflower Center's Native Plant Database at: http://www.wildflower.org/plants/. To locate national distributors of wildflower plants and seeds, visit the search engine at: http://www.wildflower.org/suppliers/.

Send your best wildflower photos to the Glen Rose Reporter at news@theglenrosereporter.com. Include your name for a photo credit and the exact location. We’ll publish them in future issues.