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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.

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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.


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