Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘fasciation

Slenderpod sesbania

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I made this more-is-more portrait of drying-out Sesbania herbacea plants in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183 on November 1st. Because this species grows in many places, it has accumulated a bunch of common names: slenderpod sesbania, hemp sesbania, coffee-bean, danglepod, coffeeweed, Colorado River-hemp, and peatree sesbania. The photograph confirms that the first of those names is accurate; the pods really are slender, measuring 10–20 cm in length but only 3–4 mm in width.

One of the plants was conspicuously fasciated, as you see in the second picture.
You might also say it was having a bad-hair day.

And here’s an unrelated thought for today (with the original spelling and capitalization): “we have spent the prime of our lives in procuring them the precious blessing of liberty. let them spend theirs in shewing that it is the great parent of science & of virtue; and that a nation will be great in both always in proportion as it is free.” — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Joseph Willard, 1789.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 16, 2020 at 4:40 AM

Cacti at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

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Four years ago today we spent time at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson. Above is a mature teddy bear cholla cactus, Cylindropuntia bigelovii; the second picture gives you a closer look at a younger one.

To top things off, below is a fasciated saguaro, Carnegiea gigantea.
You might say those cacti do everything in a big way.

And here’s a relevant quotation for today: “Take the rose—most people think it very beautiful: I don’t care for it at all. I prefer the cactus, for the simple reason that it has a more interesting personality. It has wonderfully adapted itself to its surroundings! It is the best illustration of the theory of evolution in plant life.” — Charles Proteus Steinmetz.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 7, 2020 at 4:41 AM

Flourishing fasciation

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The heavily fasciated tall gayfeather (Liatris aspera) that we saw in Bastrop was only budding on August 23rd, so back we went on September 6th to find out what the flowers would look like once they emerged on this distorted plant. Even after two more weeks of development, the flowers were just barely beginning to come out, so I figured we might have to wait a week or two longer and make the 95-mile round trip yet again. Fortunately, as we began heading home we spotted another fasciated specimen about a mile away, and it was fully flowering. In the picture above, the flower stalk in the distance lets you compare a normal specimen to the fasciated one in the foreground. The picture below gives you a closer look at the heart of the strangeness.

For more information about fasciation, you can read this article or this other one. The phenomenon could even serve as a reminder of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s iconoclastic statement in “Self-Reliance“:

“Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.”

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 19, 2020 at 4:41 AM

Carstopper

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While driving on Park Road 1C in Bastrop County on August 23rd I spied a plant standing right at the edge of the pavement that was so unusual it made me pull over as soon as I could. It turned out to be the same Liatris aspera, known as tall gayfeather and tall blazing-star, that you recently saw here (do have a look back at the second picture in that post for comparison), but fasciation had greatly distorted the upper part of this budding specimen. The closer view below, which shows the plant rotated about 90° from its orientation when I took the first picture, reveals details of the super-duper wide flattened stalk, along with other irregularities. Call it strange and you’ll get no argument from me.

I chose to post these pictures today to coincide with Wonderful Weirdos Day, even if the creators of that celebration, being people, had their own kind in mind. All I can say is fasciated plants are my kind of people.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 9, 2020 at 4:40 AM

Fasciated double Mexican hat

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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

Huffman Prairie Pink

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Huffman Prairie looms large in the history of aviation because it’s the place in Dayton, Ohio, where the Wright Brothers improved their early flying machines to the point of being reliably controllable in the air. According to a source that I read during our trip, Huffman Prairie also happens to be the largest native prairie remnant in the state of Ohio today. When we visited on July 21st we found plenty of wildflowers managing to flourish in the glaring summer light and heat. Prominent among them was a colony of echinacea (Echinacea purpurea.)

Here’s what an individual flower head looks like:

And here’s a somewhat bedraggled fasciated double flower head I noticed there:

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 19, 2019 at 4:46 AM

Add some fasciated flower heads

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On April 12th, when I came back along the same path west of Morado Circle that I would end up spending almost three hours on, something caught my attention that I’d walked right past on the outbound stretch: a four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris spp.) that didn’t look right. When I bent down to check it out, I saw that it was fasciated. The stem was flattened and partly concave, and two flower heads were glommed together.

After taking a bunch of pictures from various angles, I noticed another fasciated four-nerve daisy close by (see below). The unusual features in these photos are typical of fasciation. To see other such plants that have appeared here, you can click the “fasciation” tag at the end and scroll through a dozen relevant posts.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 20, 2019 at 4:46 AM

Fasciation comes to a black-eyed susan

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Near the end of my visit to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on September 26th I photographed some seed head remains of black-eyed susans, Rudbeckia hirta. Here’s one of them, in which you can confirm the usual thimble shape:

Then I spotted an obviously fasciated specimen, with a flattened stem and a bunch of seed heads glommed together into an irregular bundle:

Click the “fasciation” tag below if you’d like to learn more about the phenomenon and see other examples I’ve shown over the years.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 13, 2018 at 4:50 AM

Eight minutes later

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fasciated-saguaro-with-wispy-clouds-and-ocotillo-1963

During my 2014 trip to Arizona I encountered two fasciated saguaro cacti (Carnegiea gigantea). The 2016 trip led me to just one. I found it at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum on November 7th, eight minutes after I’d photographed the copper ore you saw last time. Rising at the left are the branches of an ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens).

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 22, 2017 at 4:49 AM

Conjoined firewheels

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Conjoined Firewheel Flower Heads 4547

In the Balcones District Park on May 13th I found these two firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella) flower heads conjoined back to back on a single stem. The fact that the stem was somewhat flattened makes me think fasciation* was at work here. The purple in the background came from horsemints (Monarda citriodora).

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* You can pronounce the sc in fasciation as ss or sh.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 12, 2016 at 5:00 AM

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