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Home HortScience Unique Cobalt Bluebonnet Premiers
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COLLEGE STATION, TX—In Texas the beautiful bluebonnet reigns as the state's official flower. Researchers have introduced a new, uniquely colored bluebonnet variety named after a former first lady that will add striking cobalt blue highlights to flower beds and roadsides. 'Lady Bird Johnson Royal Blue' was introduced in HortScience by horticulture professors Larry Stein, Jerry Parsons, and R. Daniel Lineberger. The team said that Lady Bird's unique color distinguishes the variety from other bluebonnet types.

The six bluebonnet species native to Texas were designated as the Texas state flower by the state legislature in 1971. The most well known variety, Lupinus texensis Hook., is used to create the impressive floral displays seen along roadsides throughout much of the state. Stein, Parsons, and Lineberger explained that a breeding project was initiated in 1985 to develop bluebonnet cultivars to use as bedding plants; a primary objective of the project was to develop novel bluebonnet flower colors. 

The researchers developed 'Lady Bird Johnson Royal Blue', the fourth seed-propagated cultivar to be released through the breeding project, by recurrently selecting for flower color. They named the cultivar after the late Lady Bird Johnson, who enthusiastically encouraged highway beautification with bluebonnets. The stunning new cobalt blue flower is intended for use as a bedding plant. "Except for having a unique flower color, the garden performance of 'Lady Bird Johnson Royal Blue' is indistinguishable from the species type in appearance, growth rate, and flowering habit," they said.

'Lady Bird Johnson Royal Blue' plantings were grown in fields separated by more than 2 miles from other bluebonnet selections to ensure the integrity of the seeds. The authors noted that the new variety produced more than four times (580 pounds per acre) as much seed per acre as any bluebonnet color harvested during the 2010 season.

'Lady Bird Johnson Royal Blue' seed is Wildseed Farms in Stonewall, Texas.



The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortScience electronic journal web site:

Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticultural research, education, and application. More information at


Original Article:

'Lady Bird Johnson Royal Blue' Bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis Hook.)
Larry A. Stein, Jerry M. Parsons, and R. Daniel Lineberger
HortScience 46:1206–1207. [Abstract][Full Text][PDF]

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