TxDOT: Winter rains provided extra bloom

AUSTIN TX, (Press release) – Spring is in the air and wildflowers are blooming all across the state. Fall and winter rains have generated a lot of wildflower germination and establishment, and this year's crop should be very abundant statewide.

"This year's wildflowers will be in big contrast to last years" said Dennis Markwardt, Texas Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) vegetation management director.  "This could be one of the best years in quite some time."

"Many different species are up in just about all regions of the state.  If the rains continue, we could have wildflowers all the way up to the June timeframe," Markwardt added.

Phlox, Indian paintbrush and bluebonnets will be the early bloomers.  Followed by the coreopsis, blackeyed susan, clasping coneflower and Engelmann daisy.  There will be a very wide variety of species showing up as well.

The department's management of native grasses and wildflowers along Texas roadsides dates back to the 1930s. TXDOT's wildflower program not only helps our highways look good but also reduces the cost of maintenance and labor by encouraging the growth of native specifies that need less mowing and care.

"The peak of wildflower season draws tourists through the state to witness the colorful display each spring.  Tourism plays an important role in the Lone Star State's economy," said Doris Howdeshell, travel information division director of the Texas Department of Transportation. "People love to drive through the state and see all the beauty that the spring wildflowers bring, and we're thrilled to help tourists find the best routes to see these living works of art."

TxDOT buys and sows approximately 30,000 pounds of wildflower seed each year.  There are more than 5,000 species of wildflowers in Texas and, while spring is one of the best times to enjoy wildflower beauty, there are flowers that bloom almost year round. TxDOT nurtures and cares for more than 800,000 acres of right of way that are filled with wildflowers throughout the year.

As a reminder, the wildflowers are for everyone's enjoyment but, for safety reasons, the public should be cautious when stopping to see the blooms.  If you are going to stop and pick the flowers, please choose areas with light traffic conditions and make sure you signal before leaving or entering the roadway.

If you do stop, park off the roadway (off of improved shoulders) parallel to the road in the direction of traffic, on the same side of the roadway that the flowers are on. Don't walk or run across lanes of traffic to get to the flowers.

Obey signs that prohibit parking on a particular stretch of roadway, and do not trespass on private property.

For the latest wildflower information call the TxDOT Wildflower Hotline at 800-452-9292 or go to  http://www.dot.state.tx.us/travel/flora_conditions.htm. This page will have text information available to you and links to additional wildflower information and a map site.  

You can also go to http://www.lone-star.net/mall/txtrails/wildflowers/sightings.htm for wildflower sightings, links and numbers to call.

The Texas Department of Transportation

TxDOT is responsible for maintaining over 80,000 miles of road and for supporting aviation, rail and public transportation across the state. TxDOT and its more than 12,000 employees strive to empower local leaders to solve local transportation problems, and to use new financial tools, including tolling and public-private partnerships, to reduce congestion and pave the way for future economic growth while enhancing safety, improving air quality and increasing the value of the state's transportation assets. Find out more at www.txdot.gov. Follow us! www.facebook.com/txdot, www.twitter.com/txdot.

For more information contact Travel Information Division at 512-486-5904