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21 February . 2020

A guide to Rancho Sienna’s wildflowers

Each spring, residents and visitors of Rancho Sienna are treated to a brilliant display of spring wildflowers throughout the community.

Wildflowers grow naturally amid more than 100 acres of parks, trails and natural open spaces at Rancho Sienna, and Sienna Park & Trail is one of the very best places to see spring color in the community.

A walk or drive along Rancho Sienna’s main thoroughfare, Via De Sienna Boulevard, is also a springtime treat. Here, Rancho Sienna helps Mother Nature along by reseeding wildflowers annually and following maintenance guidelines from Austin’s Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Last fall, Austin-based TexaScapes sowed 150 pounds of wildflower and native grass seeds in five medians along Via De Sienna, adding to the established wildflower colonies in these areas. As a result, you can expect to see bluebonnets, Indian blankets, huisache daisies and other native wildflower along Via De Sienna soon.

What kind of wildflower season can the Austin area expect to see this year?  About average, according to TexaScapes founder Richard Fadal, also known locally as the Green Gardener.

“Based on years of experience and a watchful eye on the weather and wildflower seedling growth, I cautiously predict this spring’s local wildflower bloom will most likely be average,” Fadal said. “Nature is full of surprises, however. Hopefully my predictions are as inaccurate as some weather forecasts, and we will have wonderful displays throughout our region from mid-March and into May.”

He added that some places, such as Rancho Sienna, could see above-average and particularly nice wildflower displays, thanks to the reseeding activity and rainfall events of last fall. Let’s hope – and get those cameras ready!

To help you get ready for spring, here are photos and brief descriptions of some of the most common varieties of wildflowers you can see in Rancho Sienna.  

Bluebonnet. The state flower of Texas, the bluebonnet is everyone’s favorite, and it is the most widely seeded wildflower in Rancho Sienna. Part of the genus Lupinus, bluebonnets got their name from the shape of their petals, which resemble the bonnets worn by pioneer women to shield them from the sun.

Indian blanket. Frequently found along roadsides, Indian blankets stand out like showy Fourth of July pinwheels at the top of slender stalks, according to the Wildflower Center. The petals radiate red rays tipped in bright yellow. Prized for its tolerance of heat and dryness, the Indian blanket is the state flower of our northern neighbor, Oklahoma.

Huisache daisy. This yellow charmer takes its name from the fact that it’s often seen growing under huisaches and other chaparral bushes in Central and South Texas. It grows in thick stands, creating an almost solid blanket of gold in many places. Don’t forget to stop and smell the huisache, one of the most aromatic wildflowers.

Annual winecup. Sometimes called the Cowboy Rose or Tall Poppymallow, this beauty is part of the mallow family, which includes plants as diverse as cotton, hibiscus, cacao and hollyhock. It grows from one to three feet high, making it a tall Texan indeed. Colors range from pink to purple.

Prairie verbena. Brilliant rounded clusters of pink or light purple flowers make Prairie verbena a favorite native wildflower. In open grassy areas, its springtime blooms can cover many acres. Found in a number of states, Prairie verbena is most widespread throughout Texas.

Lemon mint. Also known as Lemon beebalm and Purple horsemint, Lemon mint is loved by bees and butterflies. It emits a distinctive lemony scent when the leaves are rubbed, and its leaves are often used in salads and teas. The whorled flower heads range from lavender to pink.

Lazy daisy. If you hate mornings, you’ll identify with the Lazy daisy, also known as the Plains dozedaisy, which doesn’t open its flowers until around noon. When it wakes up from its happy nap, it has bright white flowers with cheerful yellow centers.

Black-eyed Susan. A member of the sunflower family, this cheerful wildflower has bright yellow flowers with dark centers forming the “black eyes.” A favorite of bees, butterflies and birds, it was used by Native Americans for a wide range of medicinal purposes.

Plains coreopsis. Prized for its showy yellow flowers with reddish-purple centers, Plains coreopsis is widely cultivated  in many states and is right at home in Texas. Notched petals add another beautiful detail to this member of the Aster family. Sometimes called Goldenwave and Calliopsis, it was used as a source of red and yellow dyes.