My multicell container with Echinacea seeds was covered with a transparent nylon cover for several days, and I just removed it, and spotted an unusual thing. Take a look at this white stuff in the middle of this seedling:

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There were three seeds in the cell - each seed was just placed on top of the soil and lightly patted. Two other Echinacea seeds that didn't start (yet) are visible in the photos as having paler brownish color.

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Is this normal? Or some kind of fungal infection caused by excess moisture? If yes, is there a cure?

The exact name of the plant in question is Echinacea angustifolia.

Update after 5 or so days:

  • the "feather" seems to disappear after several spraying of water (that I must do in order to maintain the soil moisture)

  • I added a very small quantity of soil to this cell to provide better support for seedlings seed, that had been lifted a bit by the root

  • the same cell looks like this now:

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  • the same cell but from different view angle:

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  • other cells:

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Update: I started a couple of seeds of a different Echinacea, Echinacea purpurea, and there is that same 'feather':

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It looks Echinacea seedlings do have this fine hair, but, for example, I didn't see any traces of such hair in Rudbeckia seedlings (Rudbeckia is a close relative to Echinacea).


I noticed the similar, even stronger, effect in my Lupinus seedslings:

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  • Lupines are member of the family of Fabaceae, which also contains peas and beans. As you might have learned with biology class (or not) these plants have a complex root system containing bacteria (root nodules), which produce N for the plant and soil. I can imagine that seedlings start making complex roots immediately to find and make contact with the nitrogen fixating bacteria.
    – benn
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 10:30

2 Answers 2


That looks like fine root hairs on the hypocotyl of a normal , healthy seedling still in the cotyledon stage. These root hairs greatly increase the surface area of the root and are thought to aid in nutrient absorption, anchorage and microbial interactions.

Edit: It does look like the root has pushed the seedling out of the medium though (maybe they are going for the light). I would try to straighten the seedlings up a bit and top up the cells with seed raising mix almost to the base of the cotyledons for added support.

seedling root hairs

  • It is true that it seems seeds that started are in manu cases almost lifted in the air. The whole tray has 44 cells, there are more cases. I am going to take more photos in next few days. But thanks for the hint (to add a little of soil in each cell).
    – VividD
    Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 17:12
  • The hairs disapperar after several spraying of water - as if they were "blown" by the mist - I suppose that is expected, no? (after all, they are supposed to be and have their role under ground?)
    – VividD
    Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 6:47

The image isn't entirely clear, but it doesn't look like a seedling, it looks like an immature fungal fruiting body, so a toadstool or a mushroom - it will reveal itself fully over the next day or so, at which point it might be possible to identify it properly.

It's unlikely to be a problem for any seed you've sown in that cell, it will have grown from some mycelium already present in the soil you used, and can be snapped off when it's a bit bigger.

  • I wanted coneflowers in my garden, but it looks I will end up with a mushroom farm. lol
    – VividD
    Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 9:30
  • 2
    Looks like a seedling to me, fluffy roots are normal.
    – benn
    Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 14:13
  • @b.nota Thanks for your opinion, but we all know that in gardening we can't know everything in advance, so I find this answer good and valid - in the sense that it brings a possibility to our attention, we'll see in a day or two.
    – VividD
    Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 14:30
  • Hopefully not a mushroom farm, but I'll be interested to know what develops over the next couple of days
    – Bamboo
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 0:13
  • I uploaded photos of the seedling taken several days after the initial photo.
    – VividD
    Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 6:43

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