Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Fasciated double Mexican hat

with 30 comments

My first instance of fasciation for 2020 came on May 16th along Lost Horizon Drive. Mexican hats (Ratibida columnifera) in my neighborhood were approaching their peak around then, so I made plenty of portraits, individually and in small groups. (That’s also where I photographed a beetle on a buffalo gourd flower.) On the way back to my car after working for a couple of hours I noticed the double Mexican hat shown here. The fact that the flower stem was a little flattened suggested that fasciation was at work. What I find unusual, even for that phenomenon, is that the flower head on the right was so much more developed than the one on the left. If you’d like to see other instances of fasciation, you can scroll through some.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 18, 2020 at 4:40 AM

30 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Fascianating!


    June 18, 2020 at 5:39 AM

  2. This is an unusual phenomenon at least in my experience, Steve. In addition to viewing your outstanding photo, I learned a new word today.

    Peter Klopp

    June 18, 2020 at 7:32 AM

    • I remember seeing and learning about fasciation for the first time on a field trip to the Doeskin Ranch in the early 2000s. Now that you’re aware of it you may run across an instance yourself. I usually see one or two examples each year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 18, 2020 at 7:44 AM

  3. I learned a new word today too, thanks! It is interesting and quite lovely!


    June 18, 2020 at 8:12 AM

    • Your reaction isn’t surprising. I think everybody is fascinated when they learn about fasciation. I was and still am, and in my wanderings about I always look forward to coming across the next instance.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 18, 2020 at 8:22 AM

  4. That particular Mexican hat looks as if it’s pointing to something. Did you happen to look in the direction of the “point”? I just love oddities like this… it’s like finding a treasure!


    June 18, 2020 at 8:47 AM

    • I think the pointing is in the mind of the beholder—in this case, you. On the other hand, you could say the photographer was carrying out his self-appointed task of portraying local native wildflowers, with many a treasure among them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 18, 2020 at 10:23 AM

  5. Although I have seen unusual growth in flowers before, I never knew what it was called. Thanks Steve.

    Jet Eliot

    June 18, 2020 at 9:09 AM

    • You’re welcome. It seems that, like you, many people have seen the phenomenon without knowing the technical name for it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 18, 2020 at 10:27 AM

  6. Never heard of that term. I had to look it up, and now I’ve learned something again. Thanks to you, Steve. 🙂


    June 18, 2020 at 10:37 AM

  7. …..no relation to the British fascinator: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascinator


    June 18, 2020 at 11:26 AM

  8. One sibling is dominant and the other a bit bewildered. I wonder whether there was an injury during development or if something genetic is occurring that will be repeated when the seeds germinate.

    Steve Gingold

    June 18, 2020 at 2:06 PM

    • Wikipedia claims that “any occurrence of fasciation has several possible causes, including hormonal, genetic, bacterial, fungal, viral and environmental causes.” I don’t know the relative frequencies of those causes, of which only the genetic has any possibility of passing on the condition via seeds.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 18, 2020 at 2:56 PM

    • Incidentally, “bewildered” is a funny way to put it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 18, 2020 at 3:30 PM

  9. I could use a doubled Mexican hat these days. We turned hot and humid so quickly down here that adjusting to the heat’s been a bit of a challenge. You’re certainly right that once recognized, fasciation is easier to spot. I’ve found a non-native fasciated sow thistle (Sonchus arvensis) and a flattened Texas dandelion this year, and I spotted the sow thistle from the car. What interested me about that one was that there were several flattened blooms on a single plant — I’d never seen that effect before.


    June 19, 2020 at 5:05 AM

    • Your first two sentences gave me the notion that someone should make an actual hat with the shape and colors of a Mexican hat. Wouldn’t it be fun to go around wearing a hat like that?

      You’re ahead of me on the fasciation count for 2020. I’m still at 1. I’ve never seen a fasciated sow thistle. You’re not ahead when it comes to heat and humidity, as the weather changed noticeably this past week: no more opening the front door at 6 in the morning to feel invigoratingly cool air. And finally the other day the chiggers started being their usual selves. I’d begun to think I was leading a charmed life this year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 19, 2020 at 7:05 AM

  10. It’s a very interesting phenomenon, isn’t it? I’ve seen it in flowers a few times but more often in cacti down in Arizona. Maybe it’s just more noticeable in a cactus. In any case, this one is off the charts! Your photo keeps everything clear, even if it’s hard to believe. 😉


    July 2, 2020 at 8:02 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: