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

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Monday - June 06, 2011

From: Savannah, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of plant from Tennessee
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I was trying to find the identity of a plant my Grandmother grew around her house in West Tennessee. It was a nonflowering plant, about 12-24 in tall, had thornless leaves similar in shape to holly leaves, the leaves had an red-orange center with green around the edges of the leaves, and the seeds were dark yellow and were shaped like BB's or those round spices in bread and butter pickles.

ANSWER:

First of all, if the plant has berries, it is a flowering plant.  Its flowers may have been inconspicuous, but they were there to produce the berries. 

One native plant, Euphorbia cyathophora (Fire on the mountain or wild poinsettia), comes to mind that has green leaves with red centers.  Its leaves are shaped somewhat like holly leaves but without the sharp tips.  It does have yellowish-green berries.  This plant is an herbaceous annual that is often used in landscaping.

Another plant that comes to mind is a non-native from Asia in the Genus Solenostemon [e.g., Solenostemon scutellarioides (coleus)].  They come in a large variety of colors and leaf shapes.  It would have to be an annual in Tennessee, however, since it is winter hardy in tropical zones 10 and 11 and Tennessee is in Zones 6 and 7.

If neither of these happens to be your plant, please visit our Plant Identification page to find links to garden forums that may be able to help identify the plant.

Here are photos from our Image Gallery of the native wild poinsettia:


Euphorbia cyathophora


Euphorbia cyathophora


Euphorbia cyathophora


Euphorbia cyathophora

 

 

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