En Español

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 Diseases and Disorders Questions

Native grasses or sedges for a border in Texas
August 12, 2011 - I am in the process of gradually replacing some of my landscaping in Dallas Texas with native Texas plants. Your website has been very helpful. I now wish to replace a liriope border, which has cro...
view the full question and answer

Problem with Quercus texana (Nuttall oak) in Alabama
March 12, 2014 - I have a 3" diameter Nuttall Oak that the builder planted when building the house. Last summer I noticed that several spots on the trunk were oozing sap (vertical approximately 1.5" long by 0.5" wi...
view the full question and answer

Yellowing leaves on non-native globe willow in Las Cruces, NM
June 26, 2010 - I live in Las Cruces, NM. I have a good size globe willow tree. The leaves are turning yellow and brown dryness at tips and leaves are falling off. Does it just need water?
view the full question and answer

Care of Styphnolobium affine, Eves necklace
October 05, 2007 - I have an 18 yr old Eve's Necklace tree that is dying from the "bottom up". It has only a few leaves at the very top of the tree. I have, connected to the gutter, a rain barrel from which the exc...
view the full question and answer

Treating scarred Gum Bumelia from Lampasas TX
June 05, 2013 - We have a very old Gum Bumelia with a scarred open tree trunk. In the past concrete was used to fill the scarred trunk. What is the acceptable method of helping the tree. More concrete or using blac...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center