'What in the world is that?': Sask. woman finds mutant sunflower sprouting in garden

Cathy Coles discovered this mutant sunflower in her garden north of Shellbrook, Sask. (Submitted)

Every year, Cathy Coles is known for her large garden north of Shellbrook, Sask.

She’s passionate about plants and loves watching them grow. But this year, she made an odd discovery.

“I was playing fetch with my dog when I noticed it,” said Coles. “I noticed my sunflower had something strange in the centre of it. I thought ‘What in the world is that?’”

She noticed one of the sunflowers she planted had leaves and growth sprouting from its centre.

“I thought is it maybe a cluster of bees or a yellow bird of some kind. I looked at it more closely and noticed it was actually four sunflowers all joined together within the centre of it.”

Coles said she’s grown many sunflowers over the years and has never seen anything like it.

“I think it’s great,” said Coles. “It’s so interesting to see the strange work of Mother Nature and what it’s capable of.”

Bob Bors is an assistant professor at the University of Saskatchewan who specializes in plant science. He said a plant like this one is quite rare.

“It could be one of two things,” said Bors. “It could either be that a mutation happened while that flower was still just a clump of cells starting to come together or it could be that some of the genes got turned on. Like every cell, a plant has the genes to make roots, flowers, and stems.”

Bors said that although he has certainly never seen sunflowers like this one in his own garden, the mutant sunflower is perfectly safe.

Coles hopes to save the seeds and plant new sunflowers next year. She said she is curious to see if it will happen again.

“It will be interesting to see if the seeds are mutants,” Coles laughed. “Sunflowers are such a happy flower. They brighten up your garden and, for me, brighten up my life.”

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