Saturday, 10 April 2010

Fascinated with Forsythia

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.


  1. Oh Ryan that picture of a forsythia being the equivalent to Katie Price will live with me forever! I've got a dwarf one and there's not much dwarf about her lol

    I think Ribes has the same distain among some gardeners. I was telling Edith earlier that my friend was shocked yesterday when she saw a Ribes in my hand at the checkout - she did not think I was the type to buy that plant - though I did hasten to tell her that it was Ribes Icicle rather than the King Edward.

    Have a lovely weekend - the weather is great isn't it. :) Rosie

  2. Great post. Thanks for the mention!
    Will see you as meerkat for ever more!
    Think we see more fasciation than we used to.
    Pollution, power lines?

    Best Wishes

  3. Good info. All I see around here is the willow varieties you mention...still amaze me when they're in bloom.

  4. I'm fascinated with fasciation (not to be said after a few glasses of wine); love your description of forsythia as a horticultural Katie Price (I think there might be a few other plants to challenge for this title...); and must confess to having forsythia in my garden and therefore feel I have to defend it. Mine is inherited, I hasten to add, but as it has enmeshed itself in an old brick wall it's a hard plant to remove. But I have come to enjoy it's garishness and then it does actually colour up quite nicely in the autumn, which no one ever mentions...


Web Analytics