Explore Plants

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
    
 

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. 

 

 

 

 

 

More General Botany Questions

Restoring the woods in Central Austin.
May 08, 2012 - I live in Austin, south central between Red Bud trail close to the low water bridge and Bee Caves road. My question: I want to make the wooded sections of my yard attractive. They have filtered sun...
view the full question and answer

Can foxglove poison be transmitted to the soil and taken up by another plant
May 29, 2012 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, Recently I discovered a Foxglove that had come up after being planted 2 or 3 yrs ago. Next to it I have some medicinal Feverfew growing. (They were so close together I suspec...
view the full question and answer

Does Nolina lindheimeriana have separate male and female plants
June 30, 2013 - RE: NOLINA LINDHEIMERIANA You show several pictures, with flowers & with seed pods. I have one plant that has only flowers and one that has only seed pods. Are they male and female? I don't see ...
view the full question and answer

Blooms as far as the eye can see
March 06, 2008 - Why are some wildflowers capable of putting on spectacular sweeps of blooms "for as far as the eye can see" such as Indian paintbrush at Vail Pass in Colorado, or bluebonnets in the Texas hill count...
view the full question and answer

How do Venus flytraps really work?
May 13, 2010 - How do venus flytraps *really* work? I've read it has something to do with the hairs in their "mouth," but is there a chemical reaction going on? A physical "trigger"? Help me understand the Venu...
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.