En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - March 15, 2011

From: Santa Rosa, CA
Region: California
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I don't know where this plant is from! I hope you can still help! I was given a plant,about 8in tall,stem and limbs are yellow it doesn't grow leaves it just has thorns do you have any idea what it might be? Thanks for your help.


This sounds like a plant in the Family Euphorbiaceae (Spurge Family) and, in particular, in the genus Euphorbia.  Many of the Euphorbias are succulents with spines but no leaves. However, your plant doesn't sound like any of the Euphorbias (or any other plant, for that matter) native to North America.  What we are all about here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is "to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes."  We can suggest some possibilities for finding the identity of your non-native plant, however.  DesertTropicals.com has a database showing many species of non-native Euphorbia. You can look through their photos and perhaps find your plant.  You can see more Euphorbia photos on the International Euphorbia Society webpage.

If you don't find your plant in either of these databases, visit our Plant Identification page to find several plant forums where you can upload photos and ask for help in identifying your plant.

By the way, if your plant doesn't have at least a greenish tinge or isn't parasitic on some other green plant, I'm afraid it isn't long for this world.  It needs to have chlorophyll or at least be connected to a plant with chlorophyll to produce energy to live.


More Plant Identification Questions

Mystery perennial in Clearfield, PA
July 07, 2009 - I have a perennial growing in my flower garden. I didn't plant extra seeds and don't know what it is..it has palm like leaves and long thin stem. It grows tall, maybe about 10 inches from the ground...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
June 25, 2011 - I see a previous question from Ohio on this plant, so I will copy the description and try to submit photos. "A year later a weed-like plant started growing beside it. It has very thorny leaves, stem...
view the full question and answer

Identity of blue sage-like plant blooming in September in Lubbock TX
November 07, 2014 - This has bothered me for years. It looks like a miniature version of Salvia azure. About a foot talk with multiple stems. Flowering in September. Grows on the hillsides overlooking Buddy Holly Lak...
view the full question and answer

Correct photos of Cynoglossum virginianum
April 30, 2008 - I recently found some "wild comfrey" (Cynoglossum virginianum) growing in woodlands in Atlanta,GA. When I used the photos on Wildflower Center website to ID this plant, I found what appears to be t...
view the full question and answer

Mystery plant in Vicksburg, MS
May 20, 2008 - I have a strange plant that has come up by a ditch next to my house. I've lived here 23 years and have never seen anything like it. I can only guess that it came up from a packet of wildflower seed...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center