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Fasciation

Normal Flower and Fasciated Flower

Fasciation in plants is a bizarre mutation in the meristem (growing point) leading to flattened
flower stems and distorted flowers, fruits and roots. It can also lead to a ring of small flowers
surrounding the main flower, this is known as hen and chicks and can be seen in some of the
Veronicastrum pictures below. The meristem is where cells actively divide in order to grow or
create new flowers and leaves, a disturbance to this process can lead to the cell division
intensifying and occurring in a haphazard manner, leading to distortion. Essentially the
growing point ceases to be a point and instead forms a cockscomb. For many plants this is
most commonly noticed with flowers, which then go on to form distorted fruits, but with cacti
and ferns it is often seen in the leaves.

Multiple distorted flowers Veronicastrum Fascination

Causes
Genetic
In some plants, such as the soybean (Glycine max), fasciation is caused by a single recessive
gene. This means that fasciation will only occur if both parents of a plant have that gene and
pass it on.

Physiological

Normal and Fasciated Spathiphyllum

In plants without the gene, fasciation is caused by disturbance to the meristem at the time of
growth. This disturbance can be caused by

Mites or insects feeding on the shoot

Fungal, bacterial and viral diseases

A sudden change in temperature eg going from low to high or high to low


(especially in Hyacinthus)

Zinc deficiency or nitrogen excess

Drought followed by heavy watering

Frequently Fasciated Plants


The following plants have exhibited fasciation: soybean, many cacti, ferns, Euphorbia,
Prunus, Salix, cannabis, Aloe, Acer, Forsythia, Delphinium, Digitalis, Taraxicum and Syringa.

Artificially Induced Fasciation


In some cases fasciation is seen as a desirable characteristic, it can lead to increased yield in
crops due to the enlarged heads, or provide a talking point in ornamental displays. Examples
are the maize, Celosia cristata and Asplenium cristata (note the species name cristata
cristate is another word for fasciation). To this end, the above conditions can be induced or
one of the following methods used:

Manipulating the photoperiod (exposure to light)

Using susceptible cultivars (see below)

Using radiation gamma rays or ionizing x-rays.

Chemical application growth regulators or polyploidzing agents

A cutting or scion taken from a fasciated plant will create a new fasciated plant

Veronicastrum Fascination is a cultivar grown for its tendency to fasciate.

Fasciated stem of Veronicastrum Fascination

Veroncastrum Fascination

Fasciation in Cacti and Other


Succulents
Many cacti and succulents are subject to fasciation, although the word more commonly used
to describe this state is cristate. More than fifty cacti genera have shown cristation, as well as
the succulent families Crassulaceae, Asclepiadaceae and Euphorbiaceae. Some cacti have
Cristata in the name. Fasciated cacti form ribbon like weaves, or have many divisions.
Cristation is often cultivated in cacti, with cuttings used to perpetuate the cristate cacti. It is
thought that some cacti species have a genetic propensity to cristation and somatic mutation
(genetic alteration caused by environmental factors as described above) leads to the physical
changes. Seeds from fasciated stems in cacti often lead to fasciated seedlings, although this is
not necessarily true of other plants, Digitalis, when fasciated, does not produce fasciated
seedlings.

Mammillaria elongata cristate

Some more cacti showing signs of cristation

Fasciated Mammillaria compressa

Normal and fasciated Mammilaria

Euphorbia

Fasciation in Ferns
Several ferns are especially cultivated to be cristate, such as Dryopteris affinis Cristata or
Asplenium cristata

Asplenium cristata

Additional information and pictures:

Interesting fasciation photos

Fasciated foxglove (scroll down)

Cactus art

Crested cacti

This entry was posted in Botany and


tagged Botany, Fasciation, Flowers, Mutants, Plants, Science onAugust 11, 2014.

Plant Divisions: Flowering Plants

Leaf Variety in Magnoliophyta

Plants in the Magnoliophyta Division may also be called Angiosperms or flowering plants,
they include grasses, palms, oak trees, orchids and daisies. Magnoliophyta is the only division
that contains plants with true flowers and fruits, and all plants in this division use those
flowers and fruits to reproduce. It is not known exactly when flowers first appeared, but
definitely by 125mya and probably as far back as 160mya.
Flowers have proved to be an extremely successful adaptation, and despite its recent
appearance, Magnoliophyta is by far the largest and most diverse plant division with over
250,000 different species and 500 families. (For comparisons to other divisions and their
sizes see here)

Leaf Variety in Magnoliophyta

Flowers
In Magnoliophyta, flowers replaced the cones of more primitive plants, as a means of
reproduction. Some flowers are brightly coloured, have a scent or produce nectar in order to

entice animals to pollinate them, but others use wind or water and, having no need to draw
attention, are barely noticeable.

Flower Variety in Magnoliophyta

Flower Variety in Magnoliophyta

Fruit and what that really means


All plants in this Division produce fruits of some kind, even though what they produce may
not be easily recognised as fruit. The botanical definition of a fruit is a matured ovary (the
ovary is the female part of the flower that contains the ovules which become the seeds once
fertilised), this includes peppers, tomatoes, aubergines, nuts, peas, wheat grains, but not
apples or rhubarb. There is another meaning for the word fruit, which is culinary and refers to
a sweet part of a plant that is eaten, this is the more familiar term and includes rhubarb and
apples, but not tomatoes and nuts, etc. Vegetable is only a culinary term, referring to parts of
a plant used in savoury cooking, it may refer to any part of the plant: leaves (lettuce) flower
buds (broccoli), stems (celery) or roots (carrots) and has no botanical equivalent.

Classification
Being such a large and interesting division means that the classification of Magnoliophyta has
received more attention and undergone more changes than any other division.

How Many Flowering Plants Are There?


It was believed for some time that there were over 400,000 flowering plants, but it turns out
that many species of plant (not known as yet how many) have actually been named twice or
even three or four times. The binominal naming system (using two Latin names, eg
Helianthus annuus) was designed to make plant naming international and straightforward, but
with people all over the world discovering and naming plants and no comprehensive way of
cross referencing them, we have ended up with a lot of confusion. Now, partly due to the
international power of the internet, serious attempts are being made to work out how many
actual species there are and to remove duplications. The Plant List is a collaboration between
a number of botanical gardens around the world and has an impressive online collection of
these names.

DNA Alters The Family Tree Cronquist to APG III


Before DNA testing was possible (or DNA was known about) plants were collected into
families, classes and orders according to detailed studies of how they looked.
Over the past few hundred years there have been many different classification systems, but
one of the most commonly used and straightforward was the Cronquist System, devised in
1968. This System grouped plants into families, with the families grouped into orders, orders
then grouped into sub classes and sub classes grouped into two classes: monocotyledons and
dicotyledons. However, with genetic testing, it has been found that many of these groupings
were wrong. A new system, called APG (Angiosperm Phylogeny Group), was introduced in
1998, but has subsequently been updated twice since then and will no doubt change in the
future.
Frustratingly, what was once a very neat and straightforward system of classification has
become an unwieldy, confused and messy system, because nature is never neat. The new
system, called APG III, does not use classes and subclasses, instead it groups orders within
clades, nested within other clades, nested within other clades; with some families not fitting
into any clade at all.
The following diagrams are an attempt to show the changes in a simple manner, using images
of plants to represent different orders and showing how those orders have altered their
connection to others. It is clear that some assumptions were completely wrong, for example
some dicots are more closely related to monocots than other dicots; the buttercup is not
kindred with the water lily; cacti are more connected to Heuchera than originally thought and
oak trees are closer to Euphorbia than London planes.

Cronquist system

APG III System

Key to Magnoliophyta plants

Note: I was unable to take photos of a tulip tree or Rhododendron in flower, so used photos I
got online from here: Rhododendron and tulip tree

It was also fairly tricky to find all the necessary information about where plants appear in the
Cronquist system, if anyone spots any faults, please contact me at the email to the right. Most
of my information came from Wikipedia, and from here

To enlarge the key click the thumbnail

Anthurium and Ctenanthe two flowering plants

This
entry
was
posted
in Botany, Classification, Divisions and
tagged Botany, Classification, Flowers,Magnoliophyta, Nature, Photography, Plants, Science,
Taxonomy on September 11, 2013.