Say, What’s That Plant?! Submit Your Mystery Species Here

With spring sproinging and blossoms galore (and over 400,000 plant species in the world) it’s okay if a few throw you for a loop. If you’ve spotted a specimen that you can’t pin down, our Plant ID, Please forum is for you. Upload your mystery plant via Instagram with the tags #plantidplease or #IDthehorticult, and the garden party (i.e. our dear readers and your hosts) will try to figure out its identity.

Or, if you’re a horticultural heavyweight, flex your taxonomy skills and name some plants for the community!

Some background —

We, the Horticult, consider ourselves plant enthusiasts and this blog is a downright fun learning experience for us. We passed by a head-turning shrub (see above) with purple poker-like blooms this past weekend. We’ve seen these blooms six springs in a row, but never bothered to get their name until now; we had plant ID homework to do.


We assessed three methods for identifying plants from a visual.

1.) Google it!
Google: purple cone flower shrub plant — We got “coneflower”
Google: purple poker plant spring bloom —We got “Primula”
No dice. Either Google is not plant savvy or we aren’t good at describing plants to search engine robots.


2.) Consult the books!
The New Sunset Western Garden Book: A great resource about caring for your species in the Western US, but not so great for identifying plants from a visual since plants are listed alphabetically.
The American Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers: A better resource for IDs because plants are listed by seasonal interest, color, and grouped by trees, shrubs, climbers, et cetera. Except, as heavy as this book is, you need to hope your specimen is one of the 4,250 plants photographed. Sounds like a lot, but remember: 400,000!
Books can be a hair-pulling experience when trying to ID plants, especially for the more novice plant enthusiasts!

3.) Post it online!
Reddit’s What’s This Plant : Sign up, upload an image, and a group of true plant lovers will help you out.
Instagram: Tag your mobile photo with #namethatplant for help with IDs.  Assign this tag and help is hit or miss.

Introducing Plant ID, Please!

We do prefer the Instagram method because it’s clean and mobile. We’ve added two tags, #plantidplease and #IDthehorticult, to our forum and now you can see all plant ID requests in one place. We invite you to use these tags this spring and we’ll all do our collective best to help out!

So RB actually identified the purple-coned head-turner by luck on page 297 of the Sunset Western Garden Book. It took a good ten to fifteen skims through the book to hit the ID jackpot. Echium candicans (pride of Madeira) now resides in the Community Garden.

Taken on the same roll of film, the following plants have us perplexed. If only we had Instagram’d these!


Our first encounter with this black-leafed specimen.


Googled: ‘striped carney flower’ with no luck!