The Internet is aflutter over two rather bizarre photographs of what appear to be daisies taken near the Fukushima nuclear disaster site in Japan. We say they appear to be daisies because the flowers in Nasushiobara City actually feature multiple stems and mutant centers. While many have claimed the plants are proof of radiation there—the level in the area of the daisies is slightly above normal but considered safe, reports the Independent—experts are much more restrained. They seem to agree that, yes, radiation could have caused the deformities. But a random mutation, insects, disease, physical damage, global warming, or environmental toxins could just as easily be to blame. What the pictures show is fasciation—a deformity of the plant stems that can cause plants to appear fused or flattened. The phenomenon is certainly not exclusive to Japan.
A rep for Britain's Royal Horticultural Society notes it receives "lots of examples of fasciation" each year and the New York Botanical Garden says it sees plenty of weird stuff, too. Though Fukushima Diary is a popular source for photos of unusual plants found near the Fukushima site, people share photos of their own mutant flowers worldwide, reports the Christian Science Monitor, indicating there's no need to be totally spooked. A post on GardeningKnowHow.com per the International Business Times notes it's impossible to correct fasciation on affected stems, but perennials "may be perfectly normal next year, so there is no need to destroy the plant." (Speaking of flowers, some roses may soon have a different scent.)