Weirdness abounds in the garden. Just when you think you know your flowers, they throw something odd at you that leaves you scratching your head. Sometimes odd is good, like when something mutates and lo and behold you've got a new cultivar, and sometimes it's just ... well ... odd.
Two summers ago, I noticed one of the gaillardias had an elongated flower head. It wasn't symmetrically round like its siblings. I took a picture and posted it over at Dave's Garden and the smart gardeners over there told me what I had was a fasciated flower head.
That's right - this had a proper name. That must mean it happens fairly often, and after only three years of gardening, I found that it's true. I've had daisies do it, coneflowers do it, and the gaillardia does it a lot. This morning, I found that even fruits do it.
This canteloupe looks like conjoined melons and whether it's true fasciation or not, I don't know. The stem is extra-wide and flattened and both melons are connected at the hip. It will be interesting to see how this one develops and if we'll get something worth harvesting and eating.
Fasciation generally occurs as a result of random developmental disruption. It may also be caused by the same bacteria that causes leafy gall disease (Rhodococcus fascians), or by extreme changes in temperature, insects, or herbicides. It can even be caused by chance from damage that may occur while hoeing. And sometimes it's even a desirable characteristic that occurs naturally in some plants like the Japanese Fantail Willow (Salix sachalinensis 'Sekkar') which is prized by florists for use in flower arranging.
Now you know.