And with its own 5,000-acre microcosm of mild weather, abundant rainfall, and diverse
habitats, Brazos Bend State Park has hundreds of different wildflowers and
flowering trees and shrubs that bloom throughout the year. I was delighted to
see so many different plants in bloom while we were here in March.
FEBRUARY SHOWERS BRING MARCH FLOWERS
Spring comes earlier to coastal Texas than wherever the little
ditty about "April showers bring May flowers" was
Because of the diversity of ecosystems within the park, we were
treated to a wide variety of spring flowers during March. In this
entry I'll include photos of some of the wildflowers we enjoyed,
as well as shrubs and trees that were blooming.
The most noticeable wildflowers when we first arrived were yellow
buttercups, shown below, which grew prolifically along the
roadways and trails, covering large expanses of grass until park
staff mowed some of them down when the grass got too straggly in
the more "civilized" areas (campgrounds, nature center, picnic
areas, shoulders of the roads)
Buttercups growing along the Bayou Trail, above;
close-up of the flowers, below.
They are about an inch in diameter and 4-8"
The buttercups continued blooming throughout March, serving as
an under story to taller wildflowers that appeared later in the
Other early spring flowers included violets, tiny blue
(below), little white
spring beauties (below, upper right),
and (of course) those ubiquitous dandelions that grow everywhere
in this country, it seems. We've been in the Dandelion Time Warp
since January. They'll probably be blooming in Virginia when we
get back to our house in a couple weeks!
The next wave of flowers included a type of yellow daisy
that stood taller than the buttercups. They grew in most
same spots as the buttercups, adding even more golden contrast to the
bright green grass in the campgrounds, lawns, fields, and
Daisies and buttercups line the Bayou Trail
in early March, above. Close-up of daisy cluster, below.
They are about 2" in diameter and grow
about 12-18" tall.
Field of daisies and buttercups between the
campgrounds and George Observatory
Other flowers that I noticed in mid-March were crown vetch,
several kinds of blooming thistles, these flowers on low-growing vines
near Creekfield Lake,
and all of these wildflowers near Elm Lake:
Later in March I began seeing these delicate pink flowers
(similar to Pasque flowers) next
to the shore around 40-Acre Lake:
The last week of March I noticed lots of blue and purple spidorwort,
bluebonnets (TX state flower), red and pink phlox (?), and red Indian paintbrush
on the edge of the prairie on the southwest side of 40-Acre Lake:
Two colors of spidorwort
Phlox(?) and bluebonnet
These little waxy reddish-orange flowers that look like
forget-me-nots were also in bloom near Hale Lake this
There were other varieties of wildflowers in bloom during
March but I can't identify most of them. Just trust me that there are
a lot of pretty flowers at Brazos Bend in the spring!
TREES AND SHRUBS IN BLOOM
We also enjoyed a variety of blossoms on spring-flowering trees
and shrubs within the park.
Fruit trees like apples and cherries were blooming when we
arrived in early March; Bradford pears had already finished
blooming by then. The best places to see theses blossoms are in the
campground area and along the Red Buckeye Trail.
Apple or crabapple blossoms, above?
Maybe the more rare Mexican plum?
Close-up of the blooms below. This tree is in the 200 Loop of the
There's another kind of tree with very similar white flowers in the
forest through which the Red Buckeye Trail meanders. This tree is
taller and the bark, leaves, buds, and flower clusters
are different. Here are three photos from three of these
One of the most striking flowering plants in the park is the red buckeye,
a shrub or small tree native to the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains.
Red buckeye buds were just getting ready to bloom when we got there.
I saw these buds on my first foray into the heart of the Brazos floodplain
on March 5 and wondered what they
would look like when they opened up:
Within a few days I found out! Here's another shrub whose
flowers are mostly open:
Some red buckeye flower clusters have a bit
of orange in them; others are completely red.
The flowers have been gorgeous the last two weeks of
March and will continue to bloom until May. Ruby-throated
hummingbirds often stop to sip nectar from the flowers on their
migration north in the spring.
Red buckeyes are blooming in various locations but are primarily
concentrated in the southeastern part of the park
where the aptly-named Red Buckeye Trail courses through the
bottomlands near the convergence of Big Creek with the
Brazos River. That's where I took all these photos of them.
What a magnificent show!
That soon became our favorite trail but for different reasons. I
liked the lush greenery and contrast with the bright red flowers.
Jim liked the winding single-track trails. As you'll see in the
entry about the trail system, most of the trails at Brazos Bend
are wider and straighter. Only a few are perfect single-track like this:
Those are just a few of the wildflowers and flowering trees we
enjoyed at Brazos Bend. The variety is amazing. Keep in mind
that we saw only what was blooming during the month of March. We
also saw azaleas, redbuds, roses, wisteria, dogwoods, and lots
of other flowers blooming on our way to and from the
southwestern Houston metro area (Sugar Land, Missouri City) when
we went to town to run errands.
I love spring!
In the next entry I'll introduce you to some of the numerous
species of animals that call Brazos Bend home for part or
all of the year -- some are sunbirds, like us.
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2010 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil