P&PDL Picture of the Week for
June 6, 2011

Half Petal/Half Leaf?

B. Rosie Lerner, Extension Consumer Horticulturalist, Purdue University

The quick explanation is that anatomically speaking, petals are considered to be modified leaves. The very immature buds on the stem have hormones and other naturally occurring chemicals that signal the cells in the immature buds as to what to do next. In this case, some of the cells divided to make a leaf, while other cells in the same bud began flower initiation and thus divided into petal. We aren't exactly sure what causes this type of anomaly to happen, but would guess it to be at least partially weather related. Sometimes one can see leaf-like structures within a flower where petals and/or sepals should be. Sometimes you may see petals where leaves should be, and in some case such as this, you see a structure that is half leaf, half petal. One occasionally sees similar types of things in other species as well, they are not very common, but not totally rare either.

Photos courtesy of Jerry Mace

Click image to enlarge

Tulip in garden

Closeup of tulip leaf/petal


Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Lab Purdue Cooperative Extension Service