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A bounty of bluebonnets is in the spring forecast

It's going to be a banner year for bluebonnets.

Because of a wetter-than-average fall, Texans can expect an abundance of wildflowers this year.

"We should have a spectacular show this year," said Barney Lipscomb, with the Fort Worth-based Botanical Research Institute of Texas.

Texas bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, showy primrose and other colorful flora soon will be blanketing North Texas fields and lining grassy areas along highways.

Lipscomb said spring rain is helpful, but it's the rain received in fall that gives flowers the much-needed moisture to germinate. North Texas received 16.33 inches of rain from September to November, ranking it No. 5 among the wettest falls.

"If you don't get much germination you won't get much of a show," Lipscomb said.

All the fall rain is good not only for germination but early growth, said Damon Waitt, senior botanist of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

"That should make for good, strong and more abundant wildflowers," Waitt said.

Central Texas already has a scattering of lavender-petaled widow's tear and clusters of white, blue and pink flowers.

Wildflower center conservationists are reporting Texas bluebonnets prepping to bloom along roadways between Marble Falls and Llano in the Hill Country and in far West Texas, near Big Bend.

As temperatures begin to warm in North Texas -- coupled with sunshine -- wildflowers should begin to bloom in April.

"We are still a little early, with the cold weather, ice and snow," Lipscomb said, "and because we haven't had much sunshine."

Bluebonnets and Indian primrose will bloom in April and May, he said. Showy primrose, one of Lipscomb's favorites, will bloom from April through July.

"Without a doubt, they are more prolific," he said, "and in my mind, certainly as spectacular."

Lipscomb said some of the best places to see wildflowers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area include Interstate 30 through Arlington and Interstate 20 in south Arlington.

The farther south, the better the show, Lipscomb said.

"There will be a concentration of bluebonnets south of the D-FW area," he said. "You start to get into the more native range of bluebonnets."

While North Texans wait for the bluebonnets, they also should enjoy some of the little blooms flowering right now such as shepherd's-purse and speedwells, Lipscomb said.

They are a nuisance for those who consider them weeds, but really quite pretty, he said.

"Pick one up before you get rid of it, and really take a look at it," Lipscomb said. You'll appreciate its beauty."

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