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What is going on with my wonderful gaura? This weird, funky, fascinating looking plant has what’s known as fasciation.

What is fasciation? Fasciation causes an elongation of the apical meristem, producing a flattened, ribbon-like growth that has a fan-like or crested appearance.

This condition is not very common, but has occurred in hundreds of different species, including but not limited to: ferns, woody plants, herbaceous annuals, perennials, fruit and vegetables. It can even develop in conifers and broad-leaved trees, and is called witches’ broom. When this happens to cacti, they are prized for their now unusual appearance and are highly sought after by collectors.

While most plants will only do this once, horticulturalists and growers have propagated such flowers as cacti and cockscomb (celosia) to keep their unique appearance.

Another fascinating use of fascinated plants is the Japanese fantail willow. This is a cloned plant with fascinated stems, propagated from cuttings — such a beautiful specimen.

The cause of fasciation is varied. Infection by a bacteria, viruses, phytoplasmas, insects, animals, chemical and mechanical have all be implicated. Other suggestions have also been somatic mutations, hormonal imbalance and the environment, such as extreme weather.

There is no treatment for fasciation, but it also has little effect on the health of the plant. You can prune it out if you really don’t like the appearance. I think it looks pretty funky, but to each their own!

Don’t forget to save the date. This year’s collaborative Seedy Saturday event by the Dunnville Horticulture Society and the Haldimand Horticulture Society will be held at the Cayuga arena on April 29. There will be tons of vendors, lots of prizes and great speakers; you don’t want to miss out. Admission is only $5.


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