Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Snow-on-the-prairie flowers: an even closer view, sans spider

with 13 comments

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The last post mentioned that people who view the soft and fuzzy elongated bracts of snow-on-the-prairie from a distance sometimes mistake those distinctive upper leaves for petals. It also explained that the flowers of Euphorbia bicolor are nondescript little things that don’t include the surrounding outer “collar” of five white lobes or even the inner one of five pale green segments, both of which would seem to us to be flower parts. The flower in the previous picture, like the partially obscured one here, wasn’t open yet, but the two prominent ones seen in this photograph had opened to reveal a cluster of stamens. We humans may be confused about what constitutes a flower in this species, but nectar- and pollen-seeking insects aren’t.

Like the last photograph, I took this one on August 23 at Southeast Metropolitan Park.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 1, 2012 at 1:03 PM

13 Responses

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  1. The more I looked at the photo, the more the actual flowers (plus the white and green lobes) reminded me of cauliflower. That made me wonder if the white cauliflower we eat actually is a flower – and lo, so it is. We just eat it before it flowers. I’ve never seen flowering cauliflower until today, and now every time I look at it I’ll think of snow-on-the-prairie.

    shoreacres

    September 1, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    • That’s a happy association, even if cauliflower is edible and snow-on-the-prairie isn’t—at least I assume it isn’t, because the plant has a milky white latex in it that some wildflower guides say can irritate the skin of sensitive people. The caul- in cauliflower, by the way, means cabbage (as does the cole in cole slaw). I guess Old King Cole was a cabbagy old soul.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 1, 2012 at 4:01 PM

  2. Das sieht filigran und sehr schön aus!!

    Mathilda

    September 1, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    • Mathilda says that this lovely plant looks to her like filigree (which is ‘ornamental work composed of fine wire and used chiefly in decorating gold and silver to which the wire is soldered, being arranged in designs frequently of a delicate and intricate arabesque pattern’). Another happy association.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 1, 2012 at 4:05 PM

  3. I’ve really enjoyed your series of photos of this plant (including the spider)! It’s really very beautiful!

    montucky

    September 1, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    • It’s one of my favorites (I know, what isn’t, right?). Although I don’t have any more planned for this species at the moment, I’d be remiss if over the next couple of weeks I didn’t also present some pictures of its close relative, snow-on-the-mountain, which has also been having a good season and which I’ve been photographing extensively (including yesterday afternoon and again this morning). The white of these two wildflowers at the hottest time of the year is something special.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 1, 2012 at 4:10 PM

  4. Very beautiful picture of a very beautiful flower! I love the green stripes in the leaves!

    Michael Glover

    September 8, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    • That’s the bicolor, or two colors, of the species name: white and green. The same two colors decorate this plant’s close relative, snow-on-the-mountain, of which I’ll post some pictures soon.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 8, 2012 at 6:56 PM

  5. Beautiful flower : )

    Firasz

    September 12, 2012 at 10:01 PM

  6. [...] expect to see stands of snow-on-the-prairie, Euphorbia bicolor, a species that begins putting on its green and white display in August. I found this one (which might be called tricolor if you add the red of its stems) with [...]

  7. [...] there it is, diagonal, a strand of spider silk holding a fallen and already curling little leaf of snow-on-the-prairie, Euphorbia bicolor, which kept swinging and twirling in the slight breeze. If you look carefully [...]

  8. [...] whose fuzzy appearance tells you why it’s known as woolly croton. Like snow-on-the-mountain, snow-on-the-prairie, fire-on-the-mountain, and various other members of the Euphorbia family, this species has small [...]


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