Garden School:


Garden School:
Teaching this week: Nothing: my Trainee is on holiday!

Saturday, 19 September 2020

Fasciation: now it's hitting the Bindweed!!

I've written about Fasciation before -  it's a perfectly natural, spontaneous mutation (not infectious, not harmful, just INTERESTING!!) which pops up from time to time.

I've seen it on Forsythia, on Summer Jasmine, and on Hibiscus, all of which were mentioned on the post above.

Then, last week, look what I found!

This is common or garden Bindweed - technically it's Hedge Bindweed, Calystegia sepum, but this is the one that most of us will find clambering around in our gardens.

It has stout, round (usually!), stems, big heart-shaped leaves, and large pure white trumpet-shaped flowers, and it twists and twines itself all over the place, if you don't catch it early enough.

Odd little side note: most people just call it Bindweed (sometimes with something unprintable in front of it), but occasionally you'll find someone with more plant knowledge, who calls it Convolvulus.  But that's the genus for Field Bindweed - Convolvulus arvensis: and that's the one with small pink-striped flowers, growing very close to the ground. In most gardens, Field Bindweed is mostly found in the lawns, but if you are really unlucky, it will spread from the lawn to the beds. This is baaaad news, as it's very hard to dig out: the roots are slender, but go down for yards.

Hedge Bindweed - this one, above - is the one that spreads like a mad thing, tying plants and shrubs together into tangles. It is actually easier to dig out than Field Bindweed, as it has fat white roots which are highly visible once you start digging. Brace yourselves:

 

There we go, a lovely tangle of Calystegia roots. That kept me occupied for half an hour or so, I can tell you!

 

Anyway, on with the plot - do you see anything unusual about the bindweed in the top picture? Take a look at the stem, top left of the pic: no? Here's a closer look at it:


 Isn't that interesting?

Completely flat, like a ribbon, instead of being round, as it normally is.

It doesn't seem to be slowing the plant down in the slightest, as it's still doing its best to take over the back fence, and throttle the winter Jasmine.

To give you a better idea of the scale, here's a close-up - apologies for the quality:


There you go: looks as though someone has ironed it, doesn't it?!

Totally harmless, to the plant that is exhibiting this behaviour, and to other plants around it - but kinda spooky-looking!

So now we can add Calystegia to the list of plants which are prone to experience this mutation; and if you've seen it on other plants, do please send me photos, I'd love to see them.

And one final point, sometimes when I show this feature to people, they are quite horrified and ask what they should do.

The answer is, nothing! It's not harmful, it's not infections, it's a spontaneous mutation. So just enjoy the weirdness of fasciation!


 

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