Word of the Week - Fasciation

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The definition of fasciation in Merriam-Webster is a malformation of plant stems commonly manifested as enlargement and flattening as if several stems were fused.


Fasication on Spirea
Photo Credit: Amy Stone, OSU Extension - Lucas County


Earlier today I was outside at one of our local libraries in Toledo, Ohio. While my purpose was to be working in the raised bed vegetable garden, I could not happen to notice the surrounding landscape plants. Plants, plants and more plants!


There was a mass planting of spireas between the building and the lawn. Spireas are known for their fine textured twigs and stems. One of the plants in the planting had one stem that was not fine, but rather just the opposite. This one particular stem was nearly an inch across at the widest point, and flat. 


Fasication on Spirea
Photo Credit: Amy Stone, OSU Extension - Lucas County


So what causes this fascinating fasciation you may ask? We all know that plants have their own 'normal.' But occasionally, the normal can become abnormal. The change could be described as unique, attractive, strange, bizarre, or maybe even humorous to some. 


It is acutally a physiological disorder, and can occur on nearly any plant part, but is usually the most noticable on stems like shown here, or on flowers. It can appear on both woody or herbaceous plants, and on ornamentals and edible plants too. If you have not seen examples of this, keep looking. It is not as uncommon as one might think. 


As I was researching the topic of fasciation, I came across a great resource that included a variety of photos, great descriptions of varied causes, and prized plants as a result. The author is Susan Mahr from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. The educational piece can be found at: https://mastergardener.extension.wisc.edu/files/2015/12/fasciation.pdf


If you have a picture of fasciation you would like to share, feel free to send it our way. You can email photos to stone.91@osu.edu


Maybe we will have an BYGL Alert - Fasciation, Part Two with everyone's contributions.