The Elusive Red Bluebonnet

In 1984 Dr. Jerry Parsons, along with the late Carroll Abbott of Green Horizons Wildflower Seeds in Kerrville, announced a search for variations in bluebonnets that would allow them to plant the Texas flag using only bluebonnets. White would be no problem, as there are ample specimens. But red was more of a challenge. After Carroll’s death, Jerry continued the search, selecting and re-selecting red seedlings in his isolated research plots south of San Antonio.

At the same time, Jerry’s eye was watching for pink, maroon and even burnt-orange bluebonnets, as well as purple.


In the photo, Dr. Larry Stein is to the left and Jerry is to the right. (I’m not sure if that red shirt is Jerry’s goal when he looks for a red bluebonnet!) The patch in which we were standing is of purple bluebonnets. I’ll give you that they look blue in the photo, but when a truly blue seedling shows up in the patch, you can quickly see how really purple this planting is.


Red bluebonnets, even after their 30 generations of reselecting annually for color, still vary somewhat from plant to plant, but those variations have become smaller – to the point that it seemed to my eye that they were getting very close. This red may not quite match Jerry’s shirt, but it would make a Texan proud in the state flag!

To my longtime dear friend Dr. Jerry Parsons: Thank you for your dedication in this exciting effort!

Posted by Neil Sperry
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