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

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

Seeds native to New Jersey from Glendora NJ
April 16, 2012 - My sister is getting married and would like to send out native wildflower seeds to the guests in her save the dates. We want these seeds to be NJ native seeds, but we are actually having some trouble ...
view the full question and answer

Growing bluebonnets from seed in Maitland FL
May 17, 2011 - Can I grow bluebonnets from seed in Maitland? The soil is quite sandy, and I do have sunny, dry places to grow them. Are there any special requirements necessary away from their native habitat?
view the full question and answer

Annual flowers for fall planting in San Antonio
June 22, 2010 - What are some recommended annual flowers for fall planting in a small garden in San Antonio? Also any help on planting and cultivating would be appreciated.
view the full question and answer

Wildflower mix for East Texas
February 04, 2009 - Hello! My boss is interested in planting a wild flower mix along his county road and the road that leads to his house. They live in between Athens and Palestine and have sandy loam soil .. which flowe...
view the full question and answer

Fragrant native plant to plant on rock wall in New York
May 28, 2007 - HELLO THERE, I LIVE IN CENTRAL NY. I WAS WONDERING IF YOU COULD SUGGEST A PLANT FOR THIS ROCK WALL ON THE SIDE OF MY HOME. IT IS A NATURAL ROCK WALL, SO BEAUTIFUL!! THE ROCK IS FLAT, ACTUALLY THE AREA...
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