Unfortunately I was too stupit to take any pictures, because at the time my
wife's goal was just for me to *get rid of it!*
, but it has puzzled us ever
since what this plant might have been. So I'm wondering if anyone can take a
guess at the identification based on my description, and then I can Google
for pictures to see if anything suggested is a match.
We live in the Willamette Valley of Oregon in USDA zone 8a (+10 to +15
degrees F). The plant was growing close to the west wall of our house, with
a large tree about twenty feet farther west, so it was in shade most of the
day but with an hour or two of full sun right around mid-day. I don't
remember watering much or at all, yet it survived our characteristically
drought-like summer (it rains very little here in June-August), so it could
be a native.
The first year we lived in the house, this nice little plant came up under
one of the dining room windows. We weren't sure if it was a weed or part of
the garden, so we let it grow to see if it would bloom or what else it might
do, and what it would look like. The first year it was very well-behaved and
got only about a foot or so tall. Hmmm...
Okay, so the second year comes around. Oh. My. God. That thing sprang up
like some kind of alien invasion and soon formed a plant about eight feet
tall and nearly as wide. It had large leaves about 8" long and from memory
they were football-shaped (American football). The stems were smooth, red,
and quite showy, almost like rhubarb stems. They were not woody, and as I
recall they were hollow when I eventually slaughtered the thing. The leaves
were quite sparse. It branched in a crazy 3-D manner (i.e. was not just a
bunch of canes coming up from a single spot on the ground), which gave it an
interesting appearance. It produced tiny white flowers in great profusion,
which then produced a large crop of very dark blue berries about the size of
peas or a little smaller. My wife remembers these being arranged as a row of
berries hanging off each side of a central stem.
The problem with this unknown denizen of our happy valley is that the
following year, new seedlings of this thing came up by the *bazillions*
(Hence the mother ship had to go.) It's now several years since I've removed
it, and still occasional seedlings sprout that we recognize as "the alien
weed." Someone down the street from us still has one of these out in the
parking strip in front of her house, but unfortunately she doesn't know what
it is either. Like ours, hers just sprouted one year.
Anyone got any guesses?
Utopia in Decay