Freak of nature

The first time I saw a fasciated stem on an otherwise normal plant — a rose — I tried to propagate it. Given my soft spot for weirdos and misfits it’s no surprise I’d want an entire plant constructed of flattened and twisted (crested) stems dotted with midget leaves and topped by mutant flowers. But it didn’t root and I didn’t become a millionaire, alas. (I was pretty sure it would be a big seller.) This summer my bush clover, Lespedeza thunbergii ‘Gibraltar’, developed several fasciated stems and I’d be tempted to try again if it hadn’t already set flower buds and hardened past ripeness for rooting by the time I noticed.

I can only hope cresting will happen again next year. According to everything I’ve read (for a small sampling of more information, see below), fasciation is a random occurrence of meristem cell orneriness, not reliably repeated unless genetics are involved. — Cockscomb/Celosia cristata’s brain-ish strangeness is passed on by seed, but most plants grown for the trait are clones. It can be blamed on infection, insects (generally as carriers of whatever disease throws the cells for a loop), physical damage, or simply mutation for mutation’s sake. Whatever causes it, however on earth it happens, fasciation is pretty freaking fascinating.

Have you found anything fasciating in your garden? Have you propagated it? (Did it make you a millionaire?)

Plant of the week 2-22-08, University of AK extension;  WI Master Gardener Assoc. “Fascinating Fasciation”

2 thoughts on “Freak of nature

  1. No million dollars here, but I have spotted it yearly on a hydrangea & my brother’s forsythia. Fascinating Fasciating Forsythia – say that five times fast.

    Made it through twice. Slowly. -k

  2. Cristate cacti will make it rain money. But who would sell something that looks so awesome?

    So WEIRD! (Don’t know who’d sell but I’d buy.) -kris

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