Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A new oddity

with 35 comments

On March 10th I went back to the lot along Balcones Woods Dr. where I’d photographed the stemless evening primrose flowers you saw here not long ago. The highlight of my latest stop was a strange ten-petal anemone flower (Anemone berlandieri) that had two central fruiting columns instead of the one that’s normal.

Sometimes flower parts get doubled as part of the phenomenon called fasciation, which I’ve documented in a bunch of posts over the years, but this time I didn’t see any of the noticeable flattening or distortion or elongation that fasciation typically brings with it. To continue investigating, I returned to the site on March 16th. By then the richly colored sepals had fallen off and dried out or blown away, so I had to search for several minutes to find the plant again. While the new evidence shown below argues against fasciation, what caused the rare splitting of one seed column into two remains a mystery. (I call this conjoining rare because even a local expert like botanist Bill Carr says he’s never seen an anemone do this.)

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 19, 2019 at 4:34 AM

35 Responses

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  1. i’ve never seen this


    March 19, 2019 at 5:24 AM

  2. Splendid

    Divya NavinRaj

    March 19, 2019 at 6:40 AM

  3. This could catch on, it makes a nice heart shape.

    Robert Parker

    March 19, 2019 at 7:41 AM

  4. It is amazing that you found it. Very interesting.

    automatic gardener

    March 19, 2019 at 8:02 AM

    • One reason for putting ourselves out in nature so often is to increase our chances of finding just such oddities.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 19, 2019 at 8:33 AM

  5. Goodness that IS unusual. Well done for spotting it.


    March 19, 2019 at 9:03 AM

    • I often think of how many interesting things I must have missed. Dozens of anemones were flowering on that property when I visited, and I could easily not have looked closely enough to notice the one strange flower. In this case, at least, the likely miss became a hit.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 19, 2019 at 9:11 AM

  6. Wow! How odd! (But also beautiful)

    M.B. Henry

    March 19, 2019 at 5:23 PM

  7. This is a very beautiful and glowing portrait. I’m glad you preserved the phenomenon.

    So I wonder:
    If you saved the seeds and planted them would it be possible that you’d find a replication of this phenomenon within this group? This assumes that all seeds sprout and flower. Are there any budding botanists in your audience? If I were 40 years younger and studying botany, I think it would be good PhD fodder. 😉


    March 20, 2019 at 5:55 AM

    • I wondered the same thing as you, whether the anomaly is inheritable or is one-time thing. I know where the plant is, only a couple of miles from home, so I’ll try to remember to check the site next year. Of the several dozen anemones there a few weeks ago, this was the only strange one I noticed, though I didn’t look closely at them all. You’re right that this would be a good project for a botany student.

      As for all the seeds sprouting and flourishing, what I’ve read says that that doesn’t happen. Plants often produce a huge number of seeds in the “hope” that at least a small fraction survive.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 20, 2019 at 8:17 AM

      • I was imagining that in a controlled set up that there would be a better germination rate. But, even my garden seeds have a certain failure rate and most of them are easy! 🌱 🌱 X 🌱


        March 20, 2019 at 8:54 AM

  8. Oddly, my first response was to count the petals. Finding an odd number — twenty-three — seems somehow appropriate. The strand of silk connecting the two columns reminded me of Philippe Petit’s walk between the Twin Towers.

    You’re lucky the anemone still was waiting for you. Unhappy with my photos of the fringed pucoon, I drove back to Palacios to take more photos. Unfortunately, the mowers had arrived in my absence. That saga did have a happy ending, which I’ll detail later in my blog.

    Don’t you think that years of experience in the field sensitize us to these oddities? Every year I see more. They may not be as spectacular as this seed column, but they certainly are things I never would have noticed when I first began roaming. It’s as though the more familiar we become with the usual, the easier it is to spot the unusual.


    March 20, 2019 at 7:43 AM

    • Your first sentence had me wondering whether the number of sepals in this anemone is also abnormal. After all, the common name is ten-petal anemone. I checked and quickly confirmed that a number considerably higher than ten isn’t unusual:


      So much for common names.

      You may be right that years of experience in the field sensitize us to oddities. I don’t know. Supporting your point of view is the adage that fortune favors the prepared. I still often wonder how many interesting things I walked right past without noticing them. Whatever our average ratio of hits/misses, it seems likely that the more we put ourselves out there, the greater the absolute number of hits.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 20, 2019 at 8:43 AM

  9. I wonder if it was supposed to be 2 flowers – however – something happened in the cell division process


    March 20, 2019 at 8:02 PM

  10. What we used to call Siamese twins…very interesting. The more you get out and really look, the more you find.


    March 29, 2019 at 8:57 PM

    • There’s the Texas two-step and now the botanical Texas twins.
      We photographers have to keep putting ourselves out there in light of the principle you outlined: the more you look, the more you find.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 29, 2019 at 9:15 PM

  11. Nature is full of surprises and this was happily found. We tend to repeat our subjects each year and finding some little quirk about them makes it all that much more rewarding.

    Steve Gingold

    April 5, 2019 at 3:49 AM

    • As you said, we—probably most of us, but at least you and I—tend to repeat our subjects each year. That’s because nature in a temperate climate is largely cyclical. Therefore this anomaly was indeed happily found.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 5, 2019 at 6:00 AM

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