At this time of year we cannot escape the vast sea of yellow produced by many spring flowering plants. Initially a welcome sight and long awaited, it is soon taken for granted and later detested. Forsythia has become a victim of its own success and is nowadays often met with a snobbish distain, the horticultural equivalent of Katie Price, for it is loud, has enhanced features and can be seen absolutely everywhere. Robert and Lesley of the Hegarty Webber Partnership discuss this point perfectly.
The main reason I write of course is not to join the growing army of Forsythia haters, that army is large enough, but to discuss a much more interesting point. The phenomenon of fasciation, as illustrated by the above image. I stumbled upon this particular plant in a neighbours garden and I could not resist taking a quick photograph, with the stealth and speed of a meerkat I must add. As you can see, one stem of this Forsythia has taken on an abnormal shape. It has become flattened and is much wider than surrounding stems. It is difficult to say what exactly caused this mutation as there are many causes of fasciation, including bacterial infection by the bacterium Rhodococcus fascians, attack from plant pests, application of chemicals, physical damage and a mutation of the apical meristem. It is also possible for plants to inherit the trait, something that has made some willow varieties, such as Salix sachalinensis "Sekka", very popular within the cut flower industry.
Many plants including Digitalis, Acer, Cotoneaster, Primula and Prunus have been observed to be susceptible to the phenomen and you may witness this is your own garden. Over the past couple of years I have seen a fasciated Foxglove, Cotoneaster and Fritillary and it is something that is sure to invite questions and spark interest.