Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘fasciation

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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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).


* 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

A malformed four-nerve daisy bud

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Malformed Tetraneuris Bud 2921

Among the four-nerve daisies (Tetraneuris linearifolia) that I photographed on Bluegrass Dr. on January 29th, I noticed one bud that had folded in on itself in an unnatural way that I’d never seen in this species and that might have been an instance of fasciation. If you’d like, you can compare the way a four-nerve daisy bud normally opens. You can also click the fasciation tag below to scroll down through previous posts showing other afflicted species.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 6, 2016 at 5:01 AM

Fasciated saguaro

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Fasciated and Backlit Saguaro 3652

In a post last October that showed a fasciated spectacle pod plant in Albuquerque, I mentioned that it was one of four such specimens I saw on my Southwest trip. I promised you’d see more, so here’s one of two fasciated saguaros (Carnegiea gigantea) that I saw in Arizona. The photograph is from October 3, 2014, in the Rincon Mountain District of Saguaro National Park on the east side of Tucson.

If you’re new to fasciation, also known as cristation, or if you’d like a refresher, you can read an introductory article that coincidentally includes a picture from Saguaro National Park, although it’s the part of the park on the other side of Tucson from the one that provided today’s photograph.

This gigantic fasciation marks the conclusion of the saguaro miniseries that’s been fascinating you for several days.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 16, 2015 at 5:18 AM

A spectacle, but not your conventional spectacles

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Spectacle Pod Fasciated 0315A

Two-and-a-half hours after I learned about the existence of spectacle pod, Dimorphocarpa wislizeni, on September 23rd outside the visitor center at Petroglyph National Monument in northwest Albuquerque, I came across a fasciated specimen in the Piedras Marcadas section of the national monument. Long-time readers of this blog know the fascination of fasciation, but those of you who are unfamiliar with this type of weird growth are welcome to read a few articles about it:

What Is Fasciation?


Fasciated Plants (Crested Plants)

The spectacle pod in today’s photograph was the first of four fasciated plants I saw on my trip through the Southwest. One of the other specimens was on a smaller scale, but the other two were gigantic, the largest I’ve ever come across or even heard about, as you’ll see in a future post.

By the way, the flattened “ribbon” of this spectacle pod keeps reminding me of the similarly shaped bundle of wires inside the dot-matrix ImageWriter printer I got in 1985. I hadn’t thought of it in years, but the comparison strikes me as apt.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 17, 2014 at 4:37 AM

Fasciated horseweed

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Horseweed Fasciated 6673

Click for greater clarity and size.

When I went to Bastrop State Park on September 6th, another native plant I noticed was horseweed, Conyza canadensis, the third species in a row to make its debut in these pages. The common name tells you that many people consider this plant a weed, but it was doing its job of bringing abundant green to some of the land made bare by the conflagration of 2011. I even found one horseweed that was noticeably fasciated, and that’s the one you’re seeing here.

If fasciation is new to you or you’d like a refresher, you can find a discussion of the phenomenon in a post about a fasciated Liatris from a couple of years ago. Posts since then have shown examples of five other fasciated species:


poverty weed;

prairie verbena;

old plainsman;

Texas mountain laurel.

So, while fasciation isn’t common, it’s apparently not all that rare, either, given that four of the seven examples are from this year alone.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 15, 2013 at 6:02 AM

Another fasciated species

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Fasciated Texas Mountain Laurel Raceme Remains 4274A

Nan Hampton knows my fascination with fasciation, so when we both attended the August 13th meeting of a music group she told me about a fasciated Texas mountain laurel, Sophora secundiflora, that she’d seen in her neighborhood. The next morning I went to the location she’d indicated and photographed what you see here. The upper parts of these structures are normal, but the parts farther down that flatten and flare out are fasciated.

If fasciation is new to you or you’d like a refresher, you can find a discussion of the phenomenon in a post about a fasciated Liatris I ran across a couple of years ago. Other posts since then have shown a fasciated firewheel, poverty weed, prairie verbena, and old plainsman.

If you’re not familiar with Texas mountain laurel you can check out past posts about this fragrantly flowerful little tree.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 9, 2013 at 6:10 AM

The plight of one plainsman

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Old Plainsman Buds Fasciated 8398

Although the colony of old plainsman, Hymenopappus scabiosaeus, that I found on April 12 at the corner of Corral Ln. and I-35 in south Austin was remarkable for its size and density, one detail caught my attention: a single old plainsman plant that had become fasciated.

A post from August 2011 explained “what botanists call fasciation, a word based, with some imagination, on the Latin fascia that meant ‘a strip of material, ribbon, band, bandage, swathe.’ As Dr. T. Ombrello wrote: ‘One interesting type of mistake that is occasionally found in plants is known as a fasciated or crested growth form. It is usually the result of a growing point changing from a round dome of cells into a crescent shape. Subsequent growth produces a flat stem. In some cases fasciation is the result of several embryonic growing points fusing together, with the same flat-stem appearance.'”

In this close photograph of old plainsman, the lower group of buds looks pretty normal, but the upper group is clearly fasciated, with its buds flattening out into a row rather than forming a round cluster.

If you have a fascination with fasciation, you can look back at a firewheel and a poverty weed plant that suffered from that condition.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 21, 2013 at 6:18 AM

Fiddlehead fasciation

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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

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