After yesterday’s post about the fasciated stalk of a Liatris mucronata plant, John Mac Carpenter asked whether flowers are ever subject to that deformity too. I said that they are, and here’s an example to prove it. You’re looking at a fasciated flower head of Gaillardia pulchella, commonly called Indian blanket and firewheel. The darker disk that you see in the middle would normally be at the center of a “wheel” of colorful rays, but in this case the disk makes an upside-down U perpendicular to the plane of the U made by the visible rays, continuing over the top of the center and down the back of the flower head; in other words, the view from the opposite side is about the same as the view shown here. If all that is hard to visualize, here’s a picture of the same flower head from a position 90° to the side:
I found this deformed flower head on the ranch of our friends in Marble Falls, a town in the Texas Hill Country about an hour west of Austin, on May 8, 2010. That was one of the best seasons in recent years for wildflowers, thanks to lots of rain in the winter and spring.
You can visit the USDA website for more information about Gaillardia pulchella, including a clickable map showing the many places that the species grows.
© 2011 Steven Schwartzman