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 Diseases and Disorders Questions

Identification of worm feeding on chockecheery
August 03, 2007 - I am looking to find out what sort of worm looking insect, is commonly found on chokecherry trees. It has a turquoise appearance with yellow fingerlike projections on the back. It suctions onto the ...
view the full question and answer

Failure to bloom of non-native Althea in Oklahoma
August 17, 2008 - I have 2 Althea bushes that will not bloom. For the past 2 years, they become covered in buds, which eventually yellow, but never open. The buds are fully developed. This year the branches have starte...
view the full question and answer

Black Sooty Mold on Bay Tree
February 25, 2013 - I have a large bay tree and all the leaves are covered with a black mold-like substance on the top part of the leaf. Under each leaf are some black/brown spots. I have washed the leaves with soap and ...
view the full question and answer

Dealing with live oak suckers in Central Texas
March 05, 2015 - Hi, I have a couple huge Live Oak trees in my back yard. Trunks are 4' in diameter. These Live Oaks produce a lot of root sprouts/suckers. I had always head that a tree's roots feed on water/oxyg...
view the full question and answer

Long term effects of pesticide from Lubbock TX
March 20, 2013 - I have 9 western pecan trees about 20 years old. Trunk sizes is from 18" to 39". I used a product Bayer Tree and Shrub, applied to the trees. I wonder what it will do to the trees. I talkd to Bayer ...
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 | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center