Plant ID forum: Mystery shrub

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Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Nov 7, 2012 12:05 AM CST

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A neighbor gave me this one a few years ago. It has a fountain habit and has never bloomed, but it does produce a little reddish-purple berry at the end of each branch in fall. In the first of these photos, you'll see one of the berries at the end of a branch on the far left margin. Ignore the stuff below the branch (I wish I could ignore it). It's just part of the veritable plague of Arum that takes over my garden from October to March.

Thumb of 2012-11-07/zuzu/cb0d6d Thumb of 2012-11-07/zuzu/5a7234
Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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KentPfeiffer
Nov 7, 2012 1:03 AM CST

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Might be Coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus).

http://plants.usda.gov/java/largeImage?imageID=syor_004_ahp....
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Nov 7, 2012 1:29 AM CST

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There is a resemblance, but this doesn't seem to be the right area for it, and I see it all over the place here.

http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=SYOR
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Nov 7, 2012 1:35 AM CST

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I take it back, Kent. I think you must be right. Here's a link to a nursery just up the road from me. They sell it and everyone around here buys plants from them.

http://www.calfloranursery.com/plants/symphoricarpos-orbicul...
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
Nov 7, 2012 2:39 PM CST
Wow, what a beauty that bush is. Coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus)
Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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KentPfeiffer
Nov 7, 2012 4:27 PM CST

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One word of warning, it is a fairly aggressive plant and is just about impossible to kill once established. It's sort of a North American version of bush honeysuckle (same family).
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Nov 7, 2012 5:58 PM CST

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Thanks for the warning, Kent. My neighbor gave me three of them. I might pull out two of them before they get too established.
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Feb 4, 2013 2:56 PM CST

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Symphoricarpos seemed like a good guess, but I ran into that neighbor again, and he says it's a Breynia. He didn't know the species.
Name: John
Scott County, KY (Zone 5b)
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ViburnumValley
Feb 5, 2013 3:35 PM CST
I had thought this plant might have been a Lonicera species. It clearly has opposite arrangement of foliage, in the images provided - which would fit both Honeysuckle or Coralberry as previously mentioned.

I had not heard of Breynia before. All the images I can find of it seem to show alternate leaf arrangement. Food for thought...
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Name: Janet Super Sleuth
Near Lincoln UK
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JRsbugs
Feb 5, 2013 4:24 PM CST
It looks like Symphoricarpos mollis var. acutus which is a synonym, and Symphoricarpos mollis is unresolved according to the Plant List.

This northern & Sierra species has a very spreading habit and a little different look with a pointy leaf (AKA Sharp-leaf Snowberry) and red stems. This is a vigorous spreader with four-foot trailing shoots, give it room.



http://www.baynatives.com/plants/Symphoricarpos-mollis-var.-...

http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl/search?q=Symphoricarpos+moll...

http://luirig.altervista.org/schedenam/fnam.php?taxon=Sympho...
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Feb 5, 2013 4:24 PM CST

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The leaf arrangement bothers me too, not to mention the fact that most websites say Breynia is not hardy in my zone, whereas this little shrub in my garden is not bothered by frost at all.
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Feb 5, 2013 4:41 PM CST

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Janet, the issue apparently has been resolved because both GRIN and ITIS say that S. mollis is now an accepted name. ITIS also says S. mollis var. acutus is a synonym of S. acutus, another accepted name, but the photos I find of S. mollis and S. acutus show a more pointed leaf or a segmented leaf.
Name: Janet Super Sleuth
Near Lincoln UK
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JRsbugs
Feb 5, 2013 4:58 PM CST
There appears to be only a slight point on the leaf tip Zuzu, could some photos not be correct? It does have red stems.

http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=SYMO

http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/cgi/img_query?where-taxon=Symp...

Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Feb 5, 2013 5:17 PM CST

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The thing that bothers me about the S. mollis in your second link is the highly textured look of the leaves in some photos:

http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/cgi/img_query?enlarge=0000+000...

http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/cgi/img_query?enlarge=0000+000...

Maybe it's pest damage or maybe that particular photographer is photographing the wrong plant, though, because this photo certainly looks like my shrub.

http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/cgi/img_query?enlarge=0000+000...
Name: Janet Super Sleuth
Near Lincoln UK
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JRsbugs
Feb 5, 2013 5:58 PM CST
I noticed the textured leaves too! It could be the wrong photo, or the leaves might vary for some reason. This site seems to show both.. if they are correct!

http://www.laspilitas.com/nature-of-california/plants/sympho...
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Feb 5, 2013 7:54 PM CST

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Janet, does this part of the text in that link make any sense at all? Is it badly worded or am I missing the point? What does "the leaves 1 foot between nodes" mean?

"The best plants I've seen are along the edge of an interior climate in the heavy shade of Umbellularia californica and Quercus agrifolia a few miles from here. They were growing flat and 5' across with the leaves 1 foot between nodes."
Name: Janet Super Sleuth
Near Lincoln UK
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JRsbugs
Feb 6, 2013 6:57 AM CST
That will be the pairs of leaves where they attach to the stem, being a foot apart. That may have been due to the stretching of the stems towards light because of the shade. None of the photos on the linked sites show such a distance.

http://learnplantsnow.com/19-basic-botanical-terms/
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Feb 6, 2013 1:22 PM CST

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Thanks, Janet. That's what I thought. It's preposterous, isn't it? He says they're five feet across and a foot between leaf nodes, which would mean there'd be only 5 pairs of leaves on each of the arching canes. Obviously, the figure's closer to 50 pairs than 5.

At any rate, although this probably is a Symphoricarpos rather than a Breynia, the common name of S. mollis also makes me doubt the identification. No one would describe my shrub as a "Creeping Snowberry." It's as tall as it is wide, and it's absolutely unsuitable as a groundcover plant.

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