– Mystery plant: solved.

Last night, Lydia assembled with friends at M.’s until 10; the girls, it was reported, ate Poptarts and watched SNL shorts on DVD. Eli left our house around 5 o’clock, in a small car filled with teenagers and one big dog and driven by a mother, to go to an all-ages show at a converted church in Allston; he got home at 10:10 and said, when asked if he enjoyed the show, that instead he “hung out” at C.’s house with her and another girl. Hmm. In those hours when the 11-year-old and 15-year-old were absent, Jimmy caught up on some e-mail, seven-year-old Grace watched Nickolodeon, and I spent an hour researching plant images on the computer that’s in the tv room.

My mystery plant, I feel certain, is a spurge. Curious how I figured it out? Please read on.

Understand that Google only got me so far. Using descriptive details from my observations of the mystery plant as search terms — “red branches green leaves low spreading twigs aspect” in various combinations — yielded link after link to images of red-twig dogwoods. Mystery plant is not a dogwood. That, I knew. Another search, however, got me to the fabulous plant database at Shoot. A few tries yielded the category for Euphorbia (common name: spurge). I’m not sure if my plant is the ‘Rubra’ or perhaps ‘Excalibur’ (Rubra has the maroon branches that mine do; Excalibur the grey green leaves), but key features do match.

Look, first, at the leaf pattern of my mystery plant:

Mystery plant, leaf pattern

Now look at the leaf pattern of the ‘Excalibur’ from Shoot’s database:

Euphorbia Excalibur

Here’s a close-up of the spikes of the Euphorbia emerging from the ground in the spring (image from Perry’s Perennial Pages) :

Euphorbia, spikes in spring

And here’s a close-up of the spikes emerging from the dirt in my potted mystery:

*My* euphorbia, spikes in pot dirt

Yes, I do recognize that my mystery plant (seen here being praised by her photographer,Eli - “Praise you” Eli) is far leggier than any of the Euphorbia photos in the Shoot database, but my plant was sitting around in a pot all summer and got rootbound, which I discovered when I went to plant it, and therefore pushed all its energy into the above-ground branching and spiking.

Spring 2008 will be the proof. For now, I have peace of mind about the mystery plant.


My photos of the mystery plant (identified as spurge) and Eli’s self-portrait with mystery plant are by, who else?, Eli.

2 thoughts on “– Mystery plant: solved.

  1. Jane, I really dig your work.

    As I recall, you said something to me once about how persistent I am on my project, or something of that nature. I’m telling you, I do not surpass you in the thoroughness department.

  2. Pingback: - Verifying « Leaf - Stitch - Word

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