MYSTERY SHRUB 23rd Feb 2022…SS: 6 images.
I saw this shrub on Isla de la Plata. Ecuador.
Part of Machalilla National Park.
On 4th April 2019…just 6 pics
I have tried since than to id it…with no joy.
Please may I seek the assistance of the world wide experts that help here to id this very distinctive plant.

Appears to be from Lamiaceae like Phlomis?

However, I do not believe it is Lamiaceae.
The leaves of which emerge oppositely, each pair at right angles to the previous one (decussate) or whorled.
Mystery shrub has alternate leaves.

I have worked  very hard to try and id this myself. ..but I am not a botanist, just a keen amateur.
I loved those green square stems so interesting

To me the globose /spherical  heads of flowers on stalks remind me of a 3 shrubs/trees.

Button bush ………….. Cephalanthus …… ………….. in Rubiaceae… however leaves always seem to be opposite.
Paper mulberry ……… Broussonetia …………………. in Moraceae….. leaves are alternate.
London Plane tree …Platanus x hispanicain …. in Platanaceae.. I discounted these as they are just North hemisphere.
Broussonetia so far seems to be leading in the right direction.
In i naturalist  I found Broussonetia kazinoki…in Ecuador. But there is very little on www about it.
Someone in the world will  surely recognise my mystery shrub/tree

I still feel it may be from Lamiaceae.
Appears close to images at Leonotis nepetifolia (L.) R.Br., but peduncles are long in your images.


Thank you for taking the time to look at my mystery shrub, and for your suggestion.

I do not believe that  Leonotis nepetifolia it the answer.
It is a plant that I am familiar with.
The flowers of which form in a circle surrounding the stem.
My pics show the developing seed head on a stalk. , pendulous from the square stem.
It was more woody,tree like than a herbaceous plant.

Any idea about the family?

I think it is not a Lamiacean member. Leaf is alternate here.
It is not close to Leonotis.

thank you for looking and reading my comments.
I may be an amateur… but I do have a fair amount of knowledge.
I discounted  Lamiaceae /and   Leonotis…with my reasons …so frustrating, no one seemed to believe me!
They will believe  you … Assistant Professor in a Department of Botany

It is not that nobody believed you.
But it was just a suggestion from my side (And no ‘Botany’ tag on me. Ha ha ha).
I explored Rubiaceae also, but could not go close to your images.

Leaves are not opposite so cannot be Lamiaceae !

I was thinking of Hyptis (on lines of Hyptis capitata) … but I think I am wrong.
The leaves look different.

I appreciate all help. Thank you.
Hyptis is in Lamiaceae.
I thought we had established that it cannot be in this..see several posts above.
This mystery plant was not a soft herbaceous plant.
It was a shrub/tree …..with strong woody square stems.
The round balls of seeds were quite large as were the leaves.
Apologies that there is nothing to give my pics a scale.
I was so sure it would be easy to id I only took these pics

Pic 3 seems to have some sort of gland in the axil of the leaves.
Does this lead to any further clues?
I have seen something slightly similar in Aleurites molaccana where 2 glands at the junction of the leaf base and petiole secrete a sweetish sap

I tried many permutations and combinations in my first attempt with Google Lens.
I got such glands in Vernicia montana as at
But fruits look different and more like those in Uncaria, Mitragyna etc. of Rubiaceae.

Are you sure it is not a climber?

Thank you for your interest and for asking.
My memory of it was as a shrub.young tree.
It showed no sign of being a tendrils/no signs of twisting branches.
Had it done that i am positive I would have taken a picture of that.

One of my friend says this could be Byttneria. Please check the Malvaceae database for Africa.

this is a new plant to me i will do more research.

To the best of my knowledge this was just a shrub/young tree.
There were no signs of tendrils or twisting branches.
Had I seen any evidence of that that I would have taken pics.

I find the fruits of Byttneria to be a little different.

Look closely!

Not had a chance to search this.
Found image on www of Byttneria parviflora..with square stem!!!!
Still checking.
Looks hopeful.

I say again, please remember that this genus has lianas too. That’s why I always say take multiple pics from multiple angles, like … sir. In botany please do not take it for granted that you will get a second chance to visit the plant to take pictures once again, especially when you are travelling.

Thank you……I am EXTREMELY /ACUTELY aware of this.

Sadly on a cruise the landing may be just 2 hours..time is precious.
I want to see as much as possible..the landscape, scenery, the birds  as well as the new to me plants.

I never have the luxury  of spending 10 mins recording each plant…nor do I ever carry a note book.
My tiny point and shoot Canon Ixus  camera is all I ever use.
I have been VERY fortunate to visit several very remote places and know I will never get a 2nd chance to revisit.
Even if I did the chance of finding the plant again is remote.
Which is why I try to be very observant and to take images to aid with id later.
I call it my homework…I take it very seriously.
I hate to misname any of my pictures.
Sometimes I take more pics but they are out of focus and have to be deleted..everything is a rush on these magical holidays.
I am very aware of taking images to show  details . to aid with id….such as alternate v opposite leaves/flowers./fruits/bark..any other features that back in UK will help me to add an accurate name.
If plants are vines I take pics of tendrils or twisted stems.
To my very best recollection this was a free standing shrub/young tree.
My 5 images above I feel are not too bad. ..
they show alternate leaves,  the shape of the leaves, the length of the stalks, the veins, the leaf texture above and below,  the fruits, the stem , the glands.
I thought this would be so easy to get an instant id.
Many identifications can be done from a lot less.
At home it is easy..if I need more pics I can pop back to have a closer look.
I am at heart a gardener with a passion for plants.
I try to add to my knowledge on my travels.
I do not profess to be a botanist…which is why I love forums where people far cleverer than me give freely of their time to assist.
In turn I can often help other with identifications.
Every day is a school day!

Many thanks for the help from all in this group!

Nothing ventured nothing gained.
I had the cheek to write to Kew a good while ago!
I have just received a very kind, helpful e mail…
Hurray…after 3 years I have finely got the answer…see below
It ties in perfectly with … answer

Quote from Kew.
“Thank you for your email and I apologise for taking so long to get back to you. I haven’t been able to get a definitive answer but one of our scientists has said that she thinks it looks most like a Byttneria species in the Malvaceae family.
I hope that helps!”

Two things:
1. With what you assumed to be enough for identification, even people at Wakethrust couldn’t reach a solid conclusion. I am just a small potato.
2. Having said all those things about yourself, you are underestimating yourself if you think you are not a botanist. Once while on a hike with a legend, I was told that people are born to do botany, irrespective of them being trained or not trained. Few years back one girl sent me a picture of a plant which looked like an orchid. I kept that for 5 years thinking it to be a new genus because I knew it did not match with any orchid I knew. There was nothing I could do with a single pic and I asked her to find it again but in vain. And then one day someone sent the image of the same plant from Vietnam. I asked my Vietnamese friend to dissect it, only to realise that it was not an orchid but a ginger. But for 5 years that plant remained in my head as an orchid and when she replied back to the girl she was so surprised that I was still looking for an id for her plant after so many years. And we became very good friends.

Same happening with Efi. I sometime give identification of a plant posted in 2007 i.e. after 15 years and members are surprised to get response after 15 years.

I understand.

I have also id plants on id forums several years later.
Some plants can just gnaw away….needing that light bulb moment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *