En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - December 27, 2008

From: Los Angeles, CA
Region: California
Topic: General Botany, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Strange form of Dasylirion sp. (sotol)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty: I have a client with a huge (2 ft. diameter trunk), multi-headed dasylirion. On one or more of the heads, the leaves arch inward instead of outward. Someone said this is because of an injury it sustained at some point of its life. We have been tending this garden for approximately two years and though it's grown, the leaf status has not changed. Is this habit a genetic mutation - or is it really an injury? I know this isn't a wheeleri or longissima or texanum.

ANSWER:

This sounds like a case of fasciation, a plant developmental anomaly in which it appears that stems, flowers, leaves and/or fruits have been fused. It is uncertain whether it is genetically determined or caused by disease or some other sort of trauma to the plant. It does appear that there may be an inheritable tendency toward fasciation that may be triggered by environmental conditions such as temperature, crowding, insect attack, disease or wounding of the plant.  Here are photos and more discussion of fasciated plants and also photos of some fasciated cactus—a synonym for fasciation is cristation.

The species of Dasylirion shown in our Native Plant Database are Dasylirion leiophyllum (green sotol), Dasylirion texanum (Texas sotol) and Dasylirion wheeleri (common sotol). USDA Plants Database lists an additional native species, Dasylirion heteracanthum (Trans-pecos sotol).  You can see photos of all four native species in the Texas A&M Horticulture Database. Dasylirion longissimum [syn. D. longissima, D. quadrangulatum] (Mexican grass tree, toothless sotol) is a native of Mexico.  Neither the USDA Plants Database nor our Native Plant Database includes Mexican species that are not also natives of the United States or Canada.  Since the plant has a strange form, it may be difficult to identify the exact species using only photographs; but you may send us photos, if you like, and we will try to identify it. For instructions on submitting photos please visit the Plant Identification page. 


Dasylirion leiophyllum

Dasylirion texanum

Dasylirion wheeleri

Fasciated Lupinus texensis

 

 

 

 

 

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Why is my Agave suffering in Mesa, Arizona?
August 06, 2009 - I live in Mesa AZ, and have an agave that we planted 7 years ago. It grew like crazy with hardly any care whatsoever, until I cut off some of the bottom leaves and 'pups' about a month ago. Recently...
view the full question and answer

Trimming of dead foliage on trunks of yucca in California
December 21, 2008 - There is a Yucca plant in the back yard. I want to know how to get the old foliage that has died off of the trunks, it looks kind of ragged. The foliage is about three feet from the green. Can you ...
view the full question and answer

Central Texas plant to grow in cavity in cedar (Juniperus ashei)
February 27, 2010 - Is there a CenTX native that would be happy in a one-gallon cavity in a Cedar tree? I'd like to disguise an amputated limb. I'd consider a Bromeliad or Staghorn fern, but would prefer a native.
view the full question and answer

Cochineal bugs on cactus
November 18, 2008 - Mr. Smarty plants. I have purple prickly pear cactus that are developing small white flake like spots, mostly where the thorns would be. Why is this happening and how can I cure it?
view the full question and answer

Is a yucca going to have a stalk from Sylvania OH
March 15, 2012 - Hi, I was wondering if the stalk on a yucca plant grows back every year after it is cut off? How to tell if it is going to have a stalk because some of my yucca's do not have one? Thank you for your ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center