Common Matrimony Vine (Lycium halimifolium, L. barbarum) x 8 is an unassuming, "weeping" shrub native to Europe and Asia. This specimen, growing on the neighbor's lot at the bottom of the driveway, may have been planted by a long-ago gardener or could have escaped from cultivation and set down roots on its own. The tiny flowers are "purple the first day and quickly turning turning to tan," notes Symonds.
Matrimony Vine is a rambling shrub "sometimes supported on trellises or against buildings" according to George W. D. Symonds' The Shrub Identification Book, companion to The Tree Identification Book. There are times -- like the present -- when only Symonds will do. The photos are amateurish black and white, and the text appears to have been typed on a pre-Rathergate typewriter, but the underlying logic is inspired.
Symonds' MP or Master Page for Common Matrimony Vine features workmanlike black-and-white photographs of leaf arrangements. flower and fruit shapes, bark characteristics, thorns and buds to look for.
Amazon explains the uniqueness of the Symonds method as "an important supplement to existing botanical methods." The longish sounding but laconic -- concise, terse, pithy -- title says it all: The Shrub Identification Book: The Visual Method for the Identification of Shrubs, Vines and Ground Covers:
The book is in two parts: Pictorial Keys and Master Pages. The Keys are designed for easy visual comparison of details which look alike, narrowing the identification of a shrub to one of a small group -- the family or genus.
Then, in the Master Pages, the species of the shrub is determined, with similar details placed together to highlight differences within the family group, thus eliminating all other possibilities.
All of the 3,550 photographs were made specifically for use in this book and were taken either in the field or of fresh material carefully selected from the more than 20,000 specimens collected. Wherever possible, details such as leaves, fruit, twigs, etc., appear in actual size; otherwise, similar details are reproduced in the same scale.
The first gift we ever gave to nephew/godson and his beloved -- Matt and Regan -- as a couple was a matched set of Trees and Shrubs. As Matt said during walkies over Father's Day weekend when the young marrieds were visiting back east for a few days in June, "I LOVE trees!" Now they're Down Under for a scholarly conference where she will present a paper. The kids today. What a wonder.
Update: 'Forgot to reference a couple of other fun posts on fellow members of the economically outstanding Solanaceae family of which Matrimony Vine is a member:
You like potato, and I like potahto, you like tomato and I like tomahto . . . Let's call the whole thing off! But oh! If we call the whole thing off, Then we must part. And oh! If we ever part, Then that might break my heart! . . . So we better call the calling off off! Let's call the whole thing off!