Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Fiddlehead fasciation

with 14 comments

On February 21st, for the first time in maybe half a year, I went out to the sumpy place on the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin where I found so many things to photograph in the late spring of 2011.* Even in this winter-turned-spring of 2012, February 21st proved too early for me to find any native wildflowers there, but hardly had I started walking when I came across the formation that you see in today’s photograph. It was a young poverty weed, Baccharis neglecta, a species that has figured several times in these pages. What was unusual, though, was the deformation, in this case a spiral, that had beset it and that botanists call fasciation. (You can read more about the phenomenon in a post from last year, where the afflicted plant was a Liatris mucronata. You can also see an afflicted firewheel, the type of flower that appeared most recently in this blog a couple of weeks ago.) From the way certain ferns look when they unfurl, I borrowed the term fiddlehead for today’s alliterative title (and of course that name for the ferns had been inspired by the scrolls in which the necks of violins end, so this is a double borrowing).


* If you’d like a reminder of some of those things, or if you weren’t visiting this blog last spring, here are a few of them:

a pennant dragonfly

a sunflower colony

a bluebell bud

a lady beetle

a tiny snail

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 6, 2012 at 5:40 AM

14 Responses

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  1. Love the colors in your photos. It does remind me of the fiddlehead ferns found here in New England.


    March 6, 2012 at 6:05 AM

    • Thanks, Karen. I hope your spring comes as early for you up there as ours has for us in Texas.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 6, 2012 at 7:15 AM

      • Unfortunately we had 14 inches of snow last week so spring seems so far off right now.


        March 6, 2012 at 7:19 AM

  2. Fasciating! (Sorry, couldn’t resisit that one!) 🙂


    March 6, 2012 at 6:16 AM

  3. A new term for me, and glad to learn it. More to look for come spring here. Wonderful photo, and I love your “double borrowing,” as well.

    Susan Scheid

    March 6, 2012 at 7:28 PM

    • I don’t think I come across a fasciated plant more than once or twice a year on average, but I hope you’ll find one in New York; maybe knowing that the phenomenon exists will increase your likelihood of noticing it. I’m glad you like the double borrowing; could it have something to do with its reference to music?

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 6, 2012 at 7:55 PM

  4. Very interesting plant; I like it!

    Sheila T Illustrated

    March 6, 2012 at 9:34 PM

  5. The curled stem looks like an animal, the brown patch in the center of the spiral could be an eye. The little leaves below the eye look like a row of teeth. I half expect the stem to unroll and snap at prey in a second.


    March 11, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    • Hey, that’s good. Now that you point it out, I can see the crafty eye and sharp teeth. One more thing to be wary of in the often inhospitable Texas landscape.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 11, 2012 at 9:04 AM

  6. […] you have a fascination with fasciation, you can look back at a firewheel and a poverty weed plant that suffered from that […]

  7. […] I ran across a couple of years ago. Other posts since then have shown a fasciated firewheel, poverty weed, prairie verbena, and old […]

  8. […] poverty weed; […]

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