It's not a Triffid, because salt water doesn't kill it.
March 26, 2009 3:03 PM   Subscribe

This plant has been trying to take over my side yard. What is it?

I have been rooting this evil plant out of my yard for two years now. As you can tell (hopefully) from the picture, the shoots come up from a rhizomatous root with narrow, oval, greenish-red leaves with red undersides. These shoots are about 1.5 inches tall right now, but if I were to let them grow, they'd get about three feet tall with slender, lax growth. In other words, exactly like this but taller.

I don't remember any sort of flowers on them the year I let them grow because I thought I planted the stupid thing.

Eradicating this from a flower bed has been a long struggle. As I said, it has rhizomatous roots, and if you leave a little root in (which you can't avoid) they'll grow up again.

I'm pretty good about identifying plants, so when I don't know one, it really bugs me. If it helps, I'm in Missouri, USA, zone 5, and this may have been planted by a previous owner or it may be a weed. Please help!
posted by lleachie to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
It's difficult to identify plants by the roots, usually you'll want a fully developed leaf for identification purposes. Have you tried calling your local master gardeners?

My guess is purslane, but that's just a random shot in the dark.
posted by torquemaniac at 3:10 PM on March 26, 2009

It would be easier to tell if we could see mature leaves. Do these leaves ring a bell?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:11 PM on March 26, 2009

Response by poster: The mature leaves look EXACTLY like the baby leaves -- long and narrow, almost grasslike but with a bit of roundness. Perhaps an inch to 1 1/2 inches long by an quarter of an inch wide, running up the stem like that, drooping slightly. Nor do the colors change significantly as it grows. It has this burgundy/dark green color always.

It does not climb, nor does it get more than 3" tall. (So, not Kudzu). But it gets tall (not purslane, which I know and love to eat.) At first, I thought it was liatris, but there's fewer leaves, the leaves are not as pointy, there's not a clump of them at the bottom, and it never got the flowers.
posted by lleachie at 3:19 PM on March 26, 2009

If you are in the US I would suggest you contact your County Extension Agent. I have had great success in the help they provide.
posted by JayRwv at 4:43 PM on March 26, 2009

If you cut the stem or leaf does it bleed white sap? If it does it's probably a type of Euphorbia.
posted by shrabster at 6:38 AM on March 27, 2009

Maybe try here.
posted by qldaddy at 8:06 AM on March 27, 2009

Response by poster: I took it to our local ag professor/plant house owner and he said, not surprisingly, that I needed to grow some out until it bloomed or at least budded, but that his first guess would be something in polemonaceae (the phlox family). He also points out that what I thought was a rhizome is technically a stolon.

We don't think it's an euphorbia because of its lack of white sap and the way the leaves droop. And it's not a vine, nor is it common enough to be in the common weeds databases. So I'll post you when we have a verdict.
posted by lleachie at 11:15 AM on April 13, 2009

Response by poster: No followup yet; still waiting for the plant to flower. I'm starting to think it's something in the compositae family myself, but have no ideas yet.
posted by lleachie at 6:15 AM on April 27, 2009

lleachie: 'Baby has grown up to be a Symphyotrichum puniceum or purple-stemmed aster. It doesn't have flowers yet, but the growth pattern of the mature plant screams "aster".'
posted by Pronoiac at 7:45 AM on July 16, 2009

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