My kids asked me yesterday if they would get thrown into jail for plucking a bluebonnet, so I decided to do my duty as a parent and research that pressing question.  Is it illegal to pick bluebonnet in Texas?

It used to be illegal.

Up until 1973 there was a law on the books called the Wild Flower Protection Act that put fines of $1 to $10 on people who would “pick, pull, pull up, tear up, dig up, cut, break, injure, burn or destroy” bluebonnets or any plants in public parks or on private property.

Then the Fort Wort Star-Telegram says some lawmakers started worrying that innocent, well-meaning kids would be getting in trouble for picking flowers for teachers, so eventually they passed an amendment that exempted kids from prosecution.  And they reduced the maximum fine from $10 to 10 cents.  (Cheaper than the cost of a grocery store flower.)  And then in 1973 the state got rid of that anti-flower picking law completely.

So it's not against the law to pick a bluebonnet now.

But it is illegal to pick one in a state park, so it's a good idea to know where you are.  And it's illegal to damage public property.  So you might find yourself in a gray area if you're picking a whole vase full from a random green space in East Texas.  Be careful.

Texas Parks and Wildlife warns against picking flowers in parks, or smushing them by driving over them inside the borders of a state park.  It's against the law in state parks to collect park plants, animals or rocks, and if you do, you could be fined $500 with a Class C misdemeanor.  That's an expensive bouquet.

There are also laws against criminal trespassing, so if you see a big patch of bluebonnets on someone's rural East Texas property it might be best ask first if you can stop and take the obligatory spring bluebonnet pics and pick a few to take home.

What's the moral of the story?  Bluebonnets are pretty and they're everywhere this time of year, and it's doubtful that we'll get thrown into the slammer if we decide to pick some.  We just have to choose our spots wisely.

And enjoy the view!  There you go, kiddos.  Now let's get those bluebonnet pics on social media.