I have a mutant rose.
I discovered this oddness in December. I started asking around amongst my network of gardener and Master Naturalist friends. Not too many people had seen anything like it, and fewer still wanted to hazard a guess. One of the answers I got from my posse was that is was fasciation, a not-quite-understood condition of abnormal – almost hyperactive – growth.
Simultaneously, I’d submitted my question to Daphne Richards, Travis County’s chief horticulturalist for Texas Agrilife Extension. In January, she disagreed with the idea that this was fasciation, but her answer took on some epic feats of explanation for the mechanics of plant growth and the hormones that control it. “I think the issue with your rose is just an anomaly of several buds forming at the same node and not separating. Kind of like included bark on a tree. Something may have slightly damaged the apex and caused this response,” wrote Daphne.
While her initial email response was fantastically detailed, it was casual and engaged, too. Over time, however, she honed a response to become a Question of the Week segment on Central Texas Gardener. That episode aired this week.
Incidentally, I am slated to appear this Summer on CTG to talk about the role of the Capital Area Master Naturalists in habitat gardening.
I will probably not be discussing mutant roses.