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Anne K Moore
Photograph Sharon Thompson

There are pranksters everywhere. Even though April Fools’ Day has past, an early blooming garden plant might just trick out with a strange new flower.

I first discovered this oddity as I was wandering through a local plant shop. I had stopped to admire some foxgloves, my favorites being the ‘Foxy’ line that blooms the first year from seed, when there in front of me was a foxglove flower spike making a statement.

It looked like its flower stems had melded together and flattened out. Then they took a strange, for foxgloves, turn outward. This fascinating fasciated foxglove looked like it wanted to talk but alas, I don’t speak foxglove.

This strange example, which happens from time to time in the foxglove world, is called “fasciation.” It can happen to other plants, too, but foxgloves seem to be exceptionally vulnerable. Scientists and gardeners don’t seem to have a definitive answer as to why this happens. Could be a genetic anomaly or something missing in the diet. In my humble opinion, if it was a dietary exclusion, then most of the foxgloves grown together under the same conditions should sport the same flower stalk. Fasciation does not hurt the plant and it won’t spread to other plants.

Foxgloves are either biennial (bloom their second year and then die) or in the case of Foxy (if planted early enough) annual. I wish I had brought my friendly foxglove home, but I left him there. Sometimes fasciation will continue to the next generation through seeds grown from the fasciated plant. Now I think it might have been fun to see what would become of this Foxy’s progeny.

Posted April 13, 2013

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