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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - July 03, 2012

From: Washta, IA
Region: Midwest
Topic: General Botany, Diseases and Disorders
Title: Growth on top of Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I grow purple coneflowers in my garden. ONE plant has something growing on the top of each cone. I would like to know what it is but I don't see how I can add a photo to this post.

ANSWER:

This sounds like a case of fasciation of your Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower).   Fasciation is 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 is a photo of a fasciated purple cone flower with an explanation from Mississippi State University and here is a photo of Rudbeckia hirta (Blackeyed Susan) with a fasciation.  Below you can see (from our Image Gallery) a photo of a fasciated Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) and two photos of greatly fasciated stems of Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel).

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

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