OPINION COLUMNS

Spring blooms: Keep it Texas friendly, bluebonnet seekers

By Brian Knox | Published Wednesday, April 4, 2018
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Driving along roads in rural areas during the past week, I’ve noticed the surest sign of spring in Texas: bluebonnets.

The sight of the colorful flowers led one of my kids to ask a question many of us have asked over the years: “Is it illegal to pick them?”

Brian Knox

Brian Knox

As a kid, I was never as certain about anything else as much as this: picking bluebonnets, the state flower of Texas, is illegal. As in, “you could go jail” kind of illegal.

Turns out, that’s a popular myth in the Lone Star State.

You can pick Lupinus subcarnosus the same as any other B-list flower, like the Indian paintbrush you often see trying to hang out with the popular crowd.

It’s also common to see families with little kids pulled off to the side of the road with the children sitting among a group of bluebonnets, while giving mom and dad a forced smile as the parents snap photos with their cameras or smart phones.

Taking photos of kids with bluebonnets might as well be a Texas law. I feel like when you have children in Texas, it’s understood that you will put a roof over their head, food in their stomachs, clothes on their backs and their butts in a patch of bluebonnets by the side of the road for a photo.

Every spring.

Without exception.

Fire ants be damned.

While in most cases it’s OK to pick bluebonnets, there are ways that picking them could constitute a criminal act. For instance, you could be reaching down and plucking a handful of bluebonnets while also listening to a Yankee complain about these blue “weeds,” and then your bluebonnet clinched fist catches him in the face on the way back up. That’s still technically assault.

It’s also a violation of our state motto: “friendship.”

While I’ve never actually heard about this exact “rumble in the bluebonnet patch” situation taking place, it would be great to attend court to hear the following courtroom exchange:

Judge: “How do you plead?”

Bluebonnet-picker: “Texan, your honor.”

Judge: “I accept your plea, and suggest you think about what you did over a big bowl of chili, the official Texas state dish. As for the terms of your lunch order, you must not ingest any beans in that chili or you will be found in violation of the court’s terms.”

You could also find yourself in trouble if you wander onto private property to pick bluebonnets. That would be trespassing, and maybe stealing.

Here’s a helpful way to remember our state motto and flower while also staying out of trouble with the law:

You can pick your friends, and you can pick your bluebonnets, but you can’t pick your friend’s bluebonnets.

And Don’t Mess with Texas.

Brian Knox is the special projects manager for the Messenger.

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