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:
Now look at the leaf pattern of the ‘Excalibur’ from Shoot’s database:
Here’s a close-up of the spikes of the Euphorbia emerging from the ground in the spring (image from Perry’s Perennial Pages) :
And here’s a close-up of the spikes emerging from the dirt in my potted mystery:
Yes, I do recognize that my mystery plant (seen here being praised by her photographer, 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.