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I found this plant growing in my garden in the crack between two retaining wall blocks.

  • it's currently about 14" (35cm) tall and has grown this year.
  • it seems to branch freely; the one pictured has two branches in addition to the main stem, with no sign of damage to the main stem to encourage branching.
  • leaves are opposite, ovate, with crenate margins. The largest leaves are about 5½" (13cm) long.
  • the tips of the growing stems are a dark reddish-purple but turn woody just a couple of inches from the tip. The woodiness is the reason I think it will grow up to be a shrub.
  • it's growing in Portland, Oregon, USA (USDA Zone 8a).

Click any photo for full size

The whole plant

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Close-up of the leaf

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Close-up of the growing tip of the main stem

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  • Have you looked in the nearby neighborhood for similar plants? – J. Musser Sep 27 '14 at 23:59
  • @J.Musser I have neighbors with lilacs and cherries; they're the closest I could find, but neither is quite right. – Niall C. Sep 28 '14 at 0:22
  • It looks remarkably like a young Catalpa, but I'm not at all sure that could be considered a volunteer plant, and the crenation on the leaves seems a little too consistent - crenation is present on some catalpa leaves usually, in the early stages. Was it there before? I can see what looks like the stump end of a thinner stem in the crack in the paving in the top pic – Bamboo Sep 28 '14 at 12:16
  • @Bamboo Which catalpa? C. bignonioides and C. speciosa are the only two common ones around here, and they are much more robust, and also have cordate, rather than ovate leaves. – J. Musser Sep 29 '14 at 3:54
  • @Bamboo The paler patch on the right where the trunk emerges from the crack between the pavers? That appears to be a damaged spot on the bark, not another stem. – Niall C. Sep 29 '14 at 4:48
2

What about Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica)? There is another knotweed that's similar, not sure I could tell them apart. You'd want to read up on trying to get rid of it, if that's what it is.

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  • There is some similarity in the leaves, but F. japonica is herbaceous with hollow stems, and I said in the question that this is woody. – Niall C. Sep 6 '15 at 17:10
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Sorry, I don't know what I was looking at that showed opposite leaves, as I see that Fallopia leaves are alternate, not opposite. What about a Clerodendrum? Not C. trichotomum, which has entire leaf margins, but maybe C. bungei? If not for the margins, the leaves of the former look more similar.

[Edited] Here is a photo of what's being called C. trichtomum with serrated margins. The flowers look right, though it's the first I've seen of that name with leaf margins like that, so maybe it's something else. http://www.cistus.com/plants_image/Clerodendrum_trichotomum_Golden_Glory___38064.jpg. The page it is from doesn't have any information, just the name linking to the photo.

[Edited again]Me again. Here is another page with a cultivar of C. trichtomum called 'Harlequin Glory', with serrated leaf margins. http://toptropicals.com/pics/garden/2004/4/4666.jpg. Again, no info on the page it's from. I'm actually looking for the ID for a plant from Brazil that has the same configuration and leaf shape but has very decorative white leaf veining, and I came across these two while looking for an ID for that.

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Not 100% sure but I think it could be a hydrangea. below is a picture of one in my yard. It matches all your observations except perhaps red growing tips, but that could be down to the cultivar.

hydrangea

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