What is Cresting?
Cristation, fasciation, cresting or Forma cristata are terms used commonly in botany describing the abnormal development of a plant. Every year at the San Diego Cactus and Succulent Societies plant sale I am always mesmerized by some of the prized crested succulents on display but I never did any research on why this occurs. The best way to describe fasciation or cresting is with photographs. I have purchased several succulents that are “var cristata” in the past but I have never had a seemingly “normal” succulent grow a new head that is crested until just recently.
I have this big wooden box full of fat plants in the brightest area of my garden. There was one large aeonium arboreum that had one extra tall stem that looked out of place so I cut it and started a new plant in 2014. Over the last year the container has really filled in and the new growth that started where I cut the stem became hidden from view.
Recently I cut back all of the plants in this box only to discover that the aeonium I cut had not started several new pups as they usually do, but instead it had what looked like several stems fused into one.
I did not realize that a normal plant could become crested; I just assumed that was a heritable trait. The question now is why. Of all of the aeonium arboretums’ that I have cut in my yard over the years, why have I never seen this occurrence? Why is this particular plant cresting?
Trustworthy Google. It seems that I am not the only confused succulent lover out there. Here is the basic reason I found for why this is happening.
Fasciation or cresting, can be caused by many factors and can occur on the tip of the plants stem, the fruit, the root of the plant or the flower. Bacteria, genetics, hormones, fungus and other environmental causes are the primary cause of this phenomenon.
I can’t answer my own question but will continue to research this topic. In the interim if you are interested in reading more about this check out my favorite plant website. Dave’s Garden has a descriptive article on this fascinating mutation that contains several pictures and a detailed explanation of the many reasons this occurs.
Take a look at some of the other cactus and succulents we have that are crested.