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intheflow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-09-05 08:05 PM
Original message
Mutant Flowers!
OK, I'm just back from vacation with my family in Massachusetts. This very weird black-eyed susan plant was growing in my in-law's garden:



As far as I can tell, this is the plant version of conjoined (Siamese) twins. Here's a close-up of the stem. You can see how the leaves grow out, and you can also see the thin "single" stems also on the plant.



The freakiest part are the flowers from this mutant stem. I included a regular blossom to contrast. The center on the big one was what caught our eye thinking it was a giant caterpillar.



My mother-in-law is pretty sure it indicates an alien invasion. :tinfoilhat: She says they never planted a black-eyed susan plant there and another "volunteer" has started by the lamp post.

I think it's more likely chemical contamination in the soil or ground water. :tinfoilhat:

But maybe it's a natural thing, like conjoined twins? Has anyone else seen anything like this?
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CatWoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-09-05 08:07 PM
Response to Original message
1. I watched Invasion of the Body Snatchers last night
:scared:
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Tom Yossarian Joad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-09-05 09:10 PM
Response to Reply #1
7. Yeah, you would have...
Which one?

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CatWoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-10-05 12:30 PM
Response to Reply #7
19. The Donald Sutherland version
tho, I must admit, I like both versions.

I'm looking for the original to purchase.

Will probably get if off Ebay. :hi:
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BrklynLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-09-05 08:17 PM
Response to Original message
2. That is very weird..You should call a local botanical garden and let them
look at it or send pictures if they are far away. I would bet it is a very unusual anomaly and they would be very interested.
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Saphire Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-09-05 08:47 PM
Response to Original message
3. so they live near the Springfield Power Plant???????
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intheflow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-09-05 09:00 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. No, but they live on the banks of the Mill River.
I've heard stories of the Mill River burning in the '60's.

Oh... wait. Was that a Simpsons reference? I'm a bit slow on the uptake. :eyes:
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CatWoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-09-05 09:07 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. BWAHAHAHA
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Democracy White Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-09-05 08:55 PM
Response to Original message
4. It gave me shivers just looking at it n/t
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mike_c Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-09-05 09:13 PM
Response to Original message
8. it's a growth regulator (hormone) anomaly...
Edited on Sat Jul-09-05 09:14 PM by mike_c
...possibly genetic, possibly caused by a pathogen. It's affecting meristem development and early cell determination and differentiation. Since it's being expressed in the whole plant, and the plant looks otherwise healthy, my guess would be a genetic anomaly, as you suggested. The weird inflorescence is because the composite flower parts are modified leaves. It's pretty cool-- plants can usually function just fine with this sort of mutation, especially if they are in a garden where nutrients are not limited (all that extra tissue production is energetically expensive).
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Tallison Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-09-05 09:54 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. I wonder how feasible to propagate they'd be...
Kinda interesting in a Cubist sort of way. Could really spice up an arrangement.
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mike_c Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-09-05 10:01 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. assuming it's genetic and not chimeric...
...it should propogate by cuttings or other clonal propogation.
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intheflow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-10-05 04:00 PM
Response to Reply #9
22. I really love the idea of propagating it.
You're so right about it spicing up a flower arrangement. It would look totally cool. My sister-in-law, who lives where this is growing, is into plant clippings and the like. Perhaps she'll be interested in trying propagation.

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intheflow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-09-05 10:41 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. mike_c
You lost me at "composite flower parts are modified leaves." :)

As a photographer, my artistic eye says the lines of the composite parts flow like the stem lines, so thinking of them as leaves is counterintuitive to me. I know nothing about botany, I'm just a gardening hobbyist, but I'm always interested in learning. How are the flower centers like leaves?
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mike_c Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-09-05 11:13 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. in this context, the term composite means...
Edited on Sat Jul-09-05 11:43 PM by mike_c
..."belonging to the aster family," which used to be called the Compositae. Each "flower" is more properly an inflorescence-- a large structure made of many tiny individual flowers. They're composites because there are two different kinds of flower in each inflorescence-- those with showy petals and those without. Many of the ones around the edge have a showy yellow petal, while the ones in the center all have greatly reduced or absent petals-- each of those little brown pin-cushiony bits is an individual, separate, tiny flower.

Flowers form at the ends of short stalks called recepticles. These are often not visible, but they're there nonetheless. A recepticle with it's flower petals and sepals forms at the end of a stem, either a major terminal stem or a smaller branch stem. A composite inflorescence-- like this one-- is a big cluster of these. In fact, each individual flower is a modified stem end, and the petals and sepals are modified leaves. Flowers form from tissues that would otherwise give rise to longer stems and more leaves in response to internal hormonal signals-- this is easily demonstrated by either adding the hormones artificially, thus inducing flower formation early, or by blocking the hormone, which causes stem and leaf production to continue instead of flower formation.

(On edit-- I feel compelled to interject that I've glossed over several important bits here, including the long-standing mystery surrounding the exact nature to the flower inducing hormone(s). it might also be worth reminding you that all normal cells have a complete copy of the genetic information-- all the genes for forming flower parts, and stems, and roots, and so on. Which ones get "turned on" in any individual cell is part of the developmental process.)

The process of determining whether a given newly formed cell at the growing tip of the stem will become a stem cell, or a leaf, or will be modified into part of a flower, is under control of plant hormones, also called growth regulators (which are themselves ultimately under genetic control). This is called "cell determination." At the time a new cell forms at the growing tip, it is like a stem cell in animals-- it can become any kind of tissue, but what kind it becomes is controlled by the hormones that it experiences during that early development. Once determined, it "becomes" either a mature stem cell, or a leaf cell, or several other types of cell, including various different flower cells. This is called "cell differentiation," and it's usually followed by cell growth (but not always).

So what's happening in this plant is that the hormonal signal is getting scrambled, and too many new cells are getting their "flowerness" or "leafness" turned on, and in inappropriate parts of the plant body. Once determined, they differentiate normally, producing characteristic structures-- leaves, flowers, etc-- but in places where those specific structures would not normally occur.

OK, I'll quit now. Remember, you asked.... :-)
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BrklynLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-10-05 10:02 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. cool. So much good info. Guess this mean they are not alien pods.
:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
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intheflow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-10-05 12:15 PM
Response to Reply #12
16. I was fully aware I was asking
a bonafide academic, so I'm delighted with your detailed response! :)

I had already looked up the botanic definitions of "inflorescence" and "composite" in Merriam-Webster's, but you explained it much better than how I pieced together on my own. I'm also intrigued by the idea of propagating you talked about with Tallison.

Since your specialty is insects, though, can you tell me what kind of dragonfly this is? I shot this in central Massachusetts. I've been encountering the most amazing dragonflies in the past two weeks, including blue (in Colorado), white (Texas and Massachusetts), and bright red ones (Texas). This is the only one who posed for me.
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mike_c Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-10-05 09:16 PM
Response to Reply #16
24. sorry for the delayed reply...
Edited on Sun Jul-10-05 09:31 PM by mike_c
...but I was offline all day. I can't say with 100 percent certainty from the photo, but my first guess is that this is the halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina), which is in the dragonfly family Libellulidae. Even if the species ID is wrong, it's certainly one of the libellulid pennants, and there are only three or four other possible species in Mass. Here's another photo:



The details of wing and body color are somewhat variable. They're widely distributed in the northeast, and definitely occur in Massachusetts. Nice pic BTW-- dragonflies are notoriously tough to photograph, even when perched. There's a trick to taking photos like the one I linked-- you have to catch the dragonfly, then gently twist its head around nearly 360 degrees. You can do that by holding it, and giving it a bit of grass stem or something to grip with its mandibles, and rotating the stem around its neck. This bruises the motor nerves passing through the neck (no backbone, remember!), preventing it from initiating flight. You can pose it any way you want afterward. It will perch normally. The partial paralysis lasts up to several hours. Of course, the trick is catching them in the first place!
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intheflow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-10-05 11:09 PM
Response to Reply #24
26. Well, the things you can learn on DU!
That dragonfly posing trick is news this photographer can use. Thanks, mike_c. It's been nice to meet you. :hi:
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Atlas Mugged Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-10-05 10:10 AM
Response to Original message
14. It's called "fasciation"
Fasciation in the Plant World
The word fasciation comes from the Latin fascia, meaning a band. The phenomenon has been widely observed in the plant world, and various aspects of our knowledge of fasciation have been thoroughly reviewed by White (1948) and Gorter (1965). Fasciation can affect the whole plant or any of its component parts. In true fasciations the growing point is generally ridge-like instead of circular, leading to a flat ribbon-shaped structure, although there is another much rarer type, characterised by a ring-shaped growing point, which produces a hollow shoot. Fasciation has been recorded in 107 plant families and is common in the Rosaceae, Leguminosae, Onagraceae, Compositae, and Cactaceae. It is especially prevalent in species with indeterminate growth patterns - i.e. those that do not conform to any fixed pattern of growth.


http://members.lycos.co.uk/WoodyPlantEcology/sycamore/f...

A fasciation is a widespread phenomena reported in more than 100 vascular plant species. The term refers to a flattened or ribbon-like appearance. Woody plants, annuals and even cacti are affected. In some plants fasciations occur on woody stems; other plants exhibit this condition in the flower stalk, roots, fruit or flower clusters.

The cockscomb celosia (Celosia argentea var. cristata) is an excellent example of a plant with inherited fasciation. Other fasciated plants are often identified by the descriptive cultivar names of Torulosa and Monstora.

It is not known if the fasciations in most woody plants are inherited. However, the tendency toward fasciation is transmissible by budding and grafting once the woody plant develops a fasciation. Growers who prune off fasciated branches often find this condition returns with the development of new branches.

Miscellaneous causes: Herbicides, insects and physical injury to the growing tip are reported to stimulate the occurrence of fasciations. Fasciations have also been reported to occur spontaneously. Conditions favoring rapid growth also encourage the development of fasciations.


http://gardenline.usask.ca/misc/Fasciation.html
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intheflow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-10-05 02:08 PM
Response to Reply #14
21. As Spock would say,
"Fascinating!"



Thanks for posting!
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NV Whino Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-10-05 10:10 AM
Response to Original message
15. Cool
A Siamese Susan.
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arwalden Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-10-05 12:17 PM
Response to Original message
17. The Soil Has Bad Ch'i. -- You Need To Use Hexagonal Water...
... that's had it's molecules arranged with a magnet.
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Liberal Veteran Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-10-05 12:41 PM
Response to Reply #17
20. Would you recommend accupuncture or feng sui to prevent...
...this kind of thing again?

:D
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arwalden Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-10-05 09:00 PM
Response to Reply #20
23. Quartz Crystals Might Help Also....
Edited on Sun Jul-10-05 09:01 PM by arwalden
... but not as much as a Q-Ray IONIZED bracelet would.

EDIT: I wonder if anyone could do a chart on this plant to see if the planetary alignment might have had something to do with it. Pluto is in Sagitarius, you know. (Or somewhere out there... I can't be sure. But I do know that Pluto is awfully important and terribly influential.)
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intheflow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-10-05 11:07 PM
Response to Reply #17
25. My mother-in-law would love this idea.
She sleeps with magnets in her bed to help her arthritis. She swears by anything magnetic. :hi:
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XemaSab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-10-05 12:30 PM
Response to Original message
18. As a bona fide biologist
I second Mike_C in saying that's a RAD flower! Off the hook!

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