AUSTIN, Texas -- A maroon version of the state flower that's sprouted in the shadow of the University of Texas Tower in Austin has some wondering if it's the work of Aggie pranksters.
Flower beds containing brightly colored bluebonnets are now home to a variant known as Alamo Fire, which is a shade of maroon. The Texas A&M colors are maroon and white.
There's speculation in the land of the Longhorns that Aggies are responsible for sprinkling Alamo Fire seeds on the UT campus.
Texas A&M horticulturists developed the maroon variety in the 1980s in an attempt to plant a floral Texas flag in honor of the state's sesquicentennial. They had spent two decades isolating pink bluebonnets from blue but failed to achieve a solid red.
One or two maroon bluebonnets have blossomed in UT's flower beds in recent years, but now there are about a dozen. Some find it cute. Others say if they get too much, they want them removed, Markus Hogue, UT's irrigation and water conservation coordinator, told the Houston Chronicle.
Texas A&M professor and horticulturist Doug Welsh says unusually-hued bluebonnets will cross-pollinate and the recessive colors, including, maroon will recede over time to the bluebonnet's dominant shade of indigo.
The hardy wildflower has inspired poetry, country music, and even a Comanche legend since it was named the state flower in 1901. Bluebonnets have been planted alongside highways in Texas since the 1930s.
No one has taken responsibility for the maroon blooms at UT. Whoever spread the seeds, Welsh told The Texas Eagle, had a long, firm plan of making a statement.