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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.

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

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Wednesday - November 21, 2012

From: McCamey, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: General Botany, Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Fasciation on Texas Mountain Laurel
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Do Texas Mountain Laurel normally have a staghorn looking growth hanging on them after blooming in addition to the seed pod clusters or could this be a mutation?

ANSWER:

The staghorn growth you are seeing on the Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel) is called a fasciation.  Fasciation is 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. Texas Mountain Laurel seems especially susceptible to fasciation.  Here are photos photos of fasciated plants and more information from Purdue University Extension and Colorado State Extension and some photos of fasciated, or cristated, cactus (cristation is a synonym for fasciation).

Below are photos of fasciated stems of Texas Mountain Laurel and a fasciated blossom of Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet).

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

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