[ Location: UK - fully organic wildflower garden ]

The mutation shown in the photographs happened this year to one of my Toadflax. I thought at first that it may have been the result of the plant growing around a rock, but then the same happened to several others.

The plant stalks are supposed to be thin and rounded, - the strap-like stalk on this plant is around 10x the usual width but with the usual thickness.

As can be seen in the photographs, it does not prevent the plant from growing or flowering, and there is no die-back, rot, mould, or signs of insect infestation; so I am thinking that it could be a mutation. Does anyone here have any ideas or input on this?

Toadflax Mutation

Fasciation then, or dare I say fascinating? - Thanks for both answers, - this is what I love about gardening: no end of chaos, weirdness, beauty ...and many strange critters (gardener excluded).

2 Answers 2


Normally there is one circular point where the plant divides and differentiates from, that is the apical meristem... if the apical meristem gets distorted so that it is a line rather than a point you get a growth pattern like that, it is referred to as being "monstrose"... you can see it lots of places if you look for it; some euphorbia succulents are cultivated this way, I have seen some cactus also. In nature I most commonly see it in dandelions.

basically it isn't a mutation, it is a growth pattern, a cactus that displays this growth pattern might have a stem (segment) grow from it that is totally normal... it can be caused by injury or disease or just idiopathically...


This is a classic example of fasciation - stems are flattened and much wider than usual with a correspondingly odd and misshapen flower at the top. Causes are varied - a genetic blip, damage of some sort earlier in the year, viral infection, but usually, the plant does not produce these fasciated stems the following year, and it may be restricted to a single stem when it does occur. Some plants are more prone to this than others - Forsythia may produce fasciated stems quite often. Further info here https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/Profile?pid=525

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