Did an Aggie plant maroon bluebonnets at UT Tower?

Maroon bluebonnets at UT Tower. (Paul Shelton/KXAN News)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Sabotage or Mother Nature?

That’s what the Landscape Services Department at the University of Texas at Austin is wondering after maroon bluebonnets popped up in the flower bed around the UT Tower this season.

“Recently, the department installed a new landscape and planted a lot of new bluebonnets across the campus, but the UT Tower bed is the only one that the maroon ones showed up,” said Markus Hogue, UT’s irrigation and water conservation coordinator. “Which leads us to believe someone purposefully placed them there.”

While no one has fessed up to planting the maroon seeds in the flower bed, rumors have been circulating that someone at Texas A&M knows something.

Several years ago, A&M researchers were able to develop a maroon bluebonnet.

Even though the flowers are pretty, Hogue says they will start collecting the seeds from the maroon bluebonnets to keep them from spreading. If you head out there now, most of the maroon bluebonnets have faded to a pink.

The rivalry between A&M and UT doesn’t end with the flowers.

At the beginning of the spring season, someone sprayed a weed killer on the LBJ lawn to spell out A&M.

“If they’re planting beautiful flowers, it’s better than killing the grass to spell out A&M,” said Hogue with a laugh.

Maroon bluebonnet to Lady Bird Johnson Royal Blue bluebonnet

While developing the maroon bluebonnet, Texas A&M researchers also developed an even bluer bluebonnet, the Lady Bird Johnson Royal Blue bluebonnet.

“This bluebonnet we found when our researchers were looking for a selection of a maroon bluebonnet, which is especially nice for Texas A&M,” said Daphne Richards, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service horticulture agent. “We saw some really great blue ones in the same field where some really vibrant maroon ones were growing.”

It took years of cross-breeding the bluebonnet with itself to get the genetics to stick. Now, the selection is a richer blue with more flowers.

The flower did so well in state-wide tests that it was designated a Texas Superstar. A Texas Superstar plant must be beautiful, perform well and propagate easily.

To find out where you can see wildflowers, TxDOT has an interactive map where you can see there the flowers are blooming.

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