Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - April 16, 2013

From: Elgin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Wildflowers
Title: Mutation in bluebonnets from Elgin TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What causes bluebonnets to mutate..grow as if three or four are combined into one flower on one very flat, wide stem. I have these in my yard; they are beautiful! I have taken several pictures.

ANSWER:

From a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer, answered by our Senior Botanist Dr. Damon Waitt,  here is a description of "fasciation," which we believe could be the cause of the strange growth on your bluebonnets:

"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. Some fasciation may be caused by bacterial or viral infections. Fasciation bacteria survive on infected plants and debris and they spread in water and through wounds. If bacteria is to blame, the solution is good sanitation and use of pathogen-free plants. The University of California Integrated Pest Management website reccomends you "Avoid injuring the base of plants, especially when plants are wet. Keep the base of plants dry. To control fasciation to all potential causes, do not propagate or graft symptomatic plants. Remove and dispose of infected plants, or prune and dispose of distorted tissue and do not proagate from those plants." Here is a photo of fasciation in Texas Bluebonnet."

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

More Wildflowers Questions

Green thread-Thelesperman filifolium
May 13, 2007 - Looking for information on a wild flower called green thread. Can you tell us the actual name or any information about this flower.
view the full question and answer

More on bluebonnets
July 28, 2004 - My bluebonnets are still blooming out of season! What is the general season for bluebonnets to grow?
view the full question and answer

Possibility of replacing Bermudagrass with native grasses and wildflowers
November 24, 2008 - Are there any native grasses and wildflowers that can compete with bermuda grass to make a nativ-y wild area without removing the bermuda?
view the full question and answer

Can I grow Texas bluebonnets in Georgia?
May 25, 2010 - Being a native Texan, my mom loves bluebonnets. We live in Georgia, however so I am wondering if I planted some bluebonnets in her yard would they grow? What are the best conditions for bluebonnets ...
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers for high canal bank in Florida
May 27, 2009 - My home is on a canal to a natural lake in Central Florida (Orlando area). I am wondering if there is a wildflower that I can grow on a 3' high canal bank that is mostly shady.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.