I Should Have Done That and What If’s?

Euphorbia dentata (Green Poinsettia, Toothed Spurge, Etc.) on 9-24-21, #835-19.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. Today started out cloudy but now it is nice and sunny at 53° F at 1:30. The forecast says it will be back down to 25 tomorrow…

I am continuing to update the wildflower pages, writing descriptions, and adding more photos I took over the summer. As I am doing this, I have noticed several occasions where I am thinking “I should have” gone back later and taken more photos. I always take a lot of photos because some don’t always turn out so great. Sometimes I miss something or need better close-ups of the stems and flowers. Then, over the winter when I am working on the pages and descriptions, I can’t go take photos because the plants are gone. Then the “what if’s” set in…

Everyone has those “I should have done” and “what if” moments. For me, it starts with “I need to do” then months later it becomes “I should have”… I know we have all been there many times because I hear it A LOT from other people. Or how about “you should or could have done” this or that. That’s when you reply, “yes, but…” Then the “what if’s” come along for a ride which can lead us to procrastinate”… How long that list can get?

Euphorbia dentata (Green Poinsettia, Toothed Spurge, Etc.) on 9-24-21, #835-20.

The perfect example is the Euphorbia dentata, commonly known as Toothed Spurge, Green Poinsettia, Toothleaf Poinsettia, and Eastern Toothed Spurge (and possibly others). This annual species grows in a variety of habitats and can be found from the central U.S. eastward to the coast, northeast Mexico, and Ontario in Canada. Information online says they grow along streambanks, ledges, tops of bluffs, forests, glades, upland prairies, fields, gardens, ditches, along railroads, and so on. The seeds of this species don’t germinate until it gets plenty warm…

So, where did I find it growing? In the basement of the foundation where my grandparents house was. There is nothing down there but old boards and brush from the yard. It is weird to me how the seeds got down there in the first place and germinated. I suppose there is enough decaying brush for the seeds to germinate and the plants grow, but it is still weird…

Euphorbia dentata (Green Poinsettia, Tooth Spurged, Etc.) on 9-24-21, #835-21.

It was almost 8 PM when spotted this odd ball down in the basement on September 24. Instead of getting a ladder to climb down to it, I just zoomed in and took several photos the best I could. I “should have” went back and took better photos the next day. But, no, I didn’t… Now, “what if” if more seeds don’t come up in 2022?

Well, that got me to thinking… What are the odds the seeds will germinate in 2022? I would say very slim. If they don’t come up I can’t get more photos. Then again, what were the odds the seeds even wound up and germinated in the old foundation in the first place?

I got right up, grabbed the camera, then took the ladder and climbed down into the foundation…

Euphorbia dentata (Toothed Spurge) on 1-24-22, #860-1.

I sat the ladder down next to where I thought I had seen the plant. A little to the left and I would have been right on top of it…

Euphorbia dentata (Toothed Spurge) on 1-24-22, #860-2.

I pulled off several of the old flowers hoping there would be a few seed but I left more than I took. Now, the flowers of many Euphorbia species are weird in the first place. Euphorbia dentata flowers are quite similar to the Poinsettia we buy during Christmas (Euphorbia pulcherrima). In fact, Euphorbia dentata used to be called Poinsettia dentata. Writing descriptions of the flowers is quite difficult, especially without good close-ups. The stems terminate with 1-3 clusters of cyathia with 25-40 staminate flowers and immature fruits. Oddly, the ovaries hang on the outside… They become 3-lobed fruit which contain 3 seeds…

Euphorbia dentata (Toothed Spurge) on 1-24-22, #860-3.

Once I brought my find to the house, I crumbled up everything and started looking for seed. Sorry the photo is a little blurry, but those seeds are only 2-3 mm long… The ruler is on the metric side. Now that I have a few seeds, I will see if I can get them to come up in the spring in a better place than in the old foundation.

Plants of the World lists 2,028 species in the Euphorbia genus worldwide. There are 227 genera in the family Euphorbiaceae. The Missouri Plants website lists 11 species in Missouri and I have identified 3 on my farm. I know there is at least one more that has very tiny leaves that grows prostrate.

Members in this family have a milky sap that can be toxic…

That’s it for now. I hope you are doing well. Take care, everyone! Be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful.