Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Saturday - December 27, 2008

From: Los Angeles, CA
Region: California
Topic: General Botany, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Strange form of Dasylirion sp. (sotol)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty: I have a client with a huge (2 ft. diameter trunk), multi-headed dasylirion. On one or more of the heads, the leaves arch inward instead of outward. Someone said this is because of an injury it sustained at some point of its life. We have been tending this garden for approximately two years and though it's grown, the leaf status has not changed. Is this habit a genetic mutation - or is it really an injury? I know this isn't a wheeleri or longissima or texanum.

ANSWER:

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.  Here are photos and more discussion of fasciated plants and also photos of some fasciated cactus—a synonym for fasciation is cristation.

The species of Dasylirion shown in our Native Plant Database are Dasylirion leiophyllum (green sotol), Dasylirion texanum (Texas sotol) and Dasylirion wheeleri (common sotol). USDA Plants Database lists an additional native species, Dasylirion heteracanthum (Trans-pecos sotol).  You can see photos of all four native species in the Texas A&M Horticulture Database. Dasylirion longissimum [syn. D. longissima, D. quadrangulatum] (Mexican grass tree, toothless sotol) is a native of Mexico.  Neither the USDA Plants Database nor our Native Plant Database includes Mexican species that are not also natives of the United States or Canada.  Since the plant has a strange form, it may be difficult to identify the exact species using only photographs; but you may send us photos, if you like, and we will try to identify it. For instructions on submitting photos please visit the Plant Identification page. 


Dasylirion leiophyllum

Dasylirion texanum

Dasylirion wheeleri

Fasciated Lupinus texensis

 

 

 

 

 

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

How do cacti stay in ground
February 25, 2005 - How do cacti stay in ground? I know that flowers stay in the ground by their roots but what about cacti?
view the full question and answer

Yucca filamentosa suffering from damp feet in Houston
February 09, 2012 - Last year, I planted three enormous and gorgeous Yucca Filamentosa in my backyard. Two are thriving but the third started turning yellow then brown from the bottom up after a few weeks of rains. S...
view the full question and answer

Selenicereus anthonyanus, Rickrack or Fishbone Cactus
February 28, 2007 - A friend of mine gave me a plant he said was a rick rack plant. I have tried to research it on line with no luck and I don't know the scientific name...any help?
view the full question and answer

Information about ice plant (Carpobrotus edulis)
May 06, 2008 - I recently planted some Carpobrotus edulis, Ice plant, and wanted to know if I can mulch or put stones around the entire garden and plants. They are a ground cover plant.
view the full question and answer

Preserving the agave bloom for decoration from Sedona AZ
April 28, 2012 - I have an agave century plant which is starting to bloom. Is there some way I can preserve the flower as a decoration piece?
view the full question and answer

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