In the Garden now Fascinating…… Fasciation in Flowers

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Daphne Odora flower cluster
Text and photo by Victoria Gilleland

My Daphne Odora is in bloom….. a little earlier than last year because of our warmer temperatures. The pink buds have opened to white flower clusters scented with that heavenly scent only attributable to Daphne. This evergreen is such a wonderful addition to the Winter Garden!

However, there’s something new this year! Fasciation has appeared on my Daphne plant. On this plant fasciation has taken the form of distorted, splayed and somewhat puffy flower clusters that are larger and quite distinct from the other 200 on the plant.

One branch with a fasciated flower cluster and a regular flower cluster was broken off my plant a week or so ago. I popped the branch into a small vase of water and carried it inside in hopes the buds would open in the warmth of the house and spread their heady fragrance throughout.

The regular buds did open and produce that sweet daphne scent. The fasciated flower failed to open, turned brown and shriveled up without blooming and therefore produced no fragrance. That was disappointing. I was hoping for a real fragrance hit with the larger flower cluster!

Fasciated flower cluster
Fasciated means banded or bundled. 

Flowers may be wide or flattened, or fused together in a fan shape. Fasciation may be caused by a hormonal imbalance, random mutation, insect damage, disease or physical damage to the plant. 

Scientists don’t know what causes it and it’s not contagious. It doesn’t spread to other plants or to other parts of the plant on which it occurs. Fasciation usually does not return. Affected stems on shrubs such as my daphne may be removed or pruned.

Fasciation is not necessarily an undesirable trait. Some plants are grown because of their fasciation. These include Cockscomb Celosia, Crested Saguaro Cactus, and Fasciated Japanese Cedar. Plants such as these carry their fasciation in their genetic makeup so they can be reproduced from generation to generation often but not necessarily through cuttings.

A fragrant Daphne shrub could be the perfect addition to your winter garden. Fasciation is just one more thing you might see in your garden one day!


Victoria Gilleland is the owner of Cottage Garden Designs, a Garden Design company specializing in Redesign of Residential Gardens, Garden Consultation and Coaching. She has been designing gardens in the northwest for over 25 years. (vjgilleland@yahoo.com )



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