My Mutant Dandelions
Fasciated Dandelions in My Own Backyard
While many people spend time and money trying to rid their yard of every last dandelion in sight, I actually like them. I'm not sure how my neighbors feel about it, but I think that a yard sprinkled in little yellow flowers is nice, and that's why I let them live.
However, this year, my dandelions are looking a bit grotesque. My dandelions have mutated!
Instead of the little yellow flower that ends up as a slim stem with a puff on top, I've got fat ugly monstrous Franken-flowers. I'm no horticulturist, but I know that's weird.
Being curious by nature, especially about nature, I had to get to the bottom of this. Plus, I needed reassurance that there wasn't something happening in my yard that would make me mutate into Swamp Thing.
A Close-Up of My Mutant Dandelion - Front & Back of My Fasciated Dandelion
What Does Science Call It?
Dandelion Mutations = Taraxacum officinale bizzaro
Taraxacum officinale is the name of the species better known as the common dandelion.
So, after observing our botanical specimen, noting its wide, but hollow stem, and counting how many heads it had (nine), we took some photos. (It's too bad I didn't notice this mutant while still yellow, or I would have documented its growth.)
Then my niece did what every curious girl does who finds something fascinating in nature: she plucked it from the ground and ran it in to Grandma to find out what it was.
It seems that our dandelion's mutation is fasciation (also known as cresting).
Fortunately, fasciation is not something to be concerned about. Seeing a fasciated dandelion does not mean you have toxic waste on your land and it doesn't mean that your house is being subjected to terrible radiation. There is no reason to panic if you find a mutant dandelion in your yard.
When cresting occurs, a growing point on the plant changes from a round dome of cells into a crescent shape. This could be caused by many events such as hormonal imbalance, infection (by bacteria, viruses or phytoplasmas), environmental changes (such as extreme weather), mechanical damage (such as being hoed), or feeding by insects or other animals. The exact cause for a particular case of fasciation is rarely known and often seems just random.
Over a hundred plants have been documented as having occurrences of fascination, including ferns, woody plants, annuals and perennials, cacti, fruits and vegetables. The fasciation often causes stems to have wide band-like shape, and the flowers to grow in a crescent shape like a fan.
Have you ever seen a mutated dandelion?
Have you seen fasciated dandelions?
Normal Dandelion Stem vs. Fasciated Dandelion Stem
I'm Not the Only One With Mutant Dandelions
Reports of Fasciated Dandelions Around the World
I am located in upstate NY, but mutant dandelions have been seen around the world. Check out the photos from these sightings:
- A Fasciated Dandelion - UK
- Durable Gardening: Captivating Fasciated Dandelion - Illinois, USA
- Multiple Flower Fasciated Dandelions - Michigan, USA
- Fasciated dandelions in Nagano - Nagano, Japan
- Fasciated dandelion - Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Fascia in Latin = "to fuse"
So, now you know what a fasciated dandelion looks like. Are you wondering what other flowers with fasciation look like?
Check out these mutated flowers:
- A fasciated blossom of a Black-Eyed Susan
(last photo on page)
- Gaillardia pulchella, commonly called Indian blanket and firewheel
- Faciated Gerbera
An beautiful and unusual mutant yellow Gerbera flower
- Fasciation of a Garvinea
Fasciated Flower (White Mule's Ear)
I love this t-shirt which is subtle in its beauty, just as the dandelion is.
On the back it reads:
"What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson