Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Spikes aren’t always spiky

with 14 comments

Liatris Flowers Close 5157

Yesterday’s picture of a colony of Liatris mucronata shows that most plants of this species produce long and relatively slender spikes of flowers. In some cases, though, they develop bulges, as you see here. I don’t know what causes portions of some blazing-star spikes to deviate from their usual slenderness.

Like the previous photograph, today’s comes from east of Interstate 35 in the town of Buda on October 8th.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 30, 2014 at 5:44 AM

14 Responses

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  1. Maybe they’re reaching for pollinators or luring them. Or maybe they have eaten too much, and need a bit of exercise.


    October 30, 2014 at 7:25 AM

  2. Perhaps it rained a bit more the week it reached that height?


    October 30, 2014 at 8:56 AM

    • My inclination is to say no, Georgette, because other spikes nearby didn’t show bulges like this, and they would have gotten the same rain.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 30, 2014 at 9:25 AM

  3. It was definitely that extra slice of pizza….


    October 30, 2014 at 9:57 AM

  4. I think your Liatris is trying to branch out into something new…..tired of always doing the same old thing and running with the crowd.

    Steve Gingold

    October 30, 2014 at 2:30 PM

  5. What does fasciation look like when it begins? It would be fascinating if failed fasciation factored into its unusual figure.


    October 30, 2014 at 8:16 PM

    • You raise an interesting question. I don’t know what fasciation looks like when it begins, nor whether normal growth can resume in a structure after fasciation has started. My intuition in the case of this Liatris is that fasciation isn’t involved, and for two reasons: 1) I noticed nothing flattened here. 2) Bulges of this sort in Liatris spikes aren’t all that unusual, and in my experience they occur far more frequently than fasciation.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 30, 2014 at 10:57 PM

  6. What a gorgeous, intense burst of color!


    October 31, 2014 at 8:24 PM

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