Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for September 4th, 2011

Snow at the end of August

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Snow-on-the-mountain; click for greater detail.

Today marks three months since Another Beginning appeared as the first article in this Portraits of Wildflowers blog. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating not only the 102 posts so far, but also a small victory this week in the everlasting struggle against the needless destruction of nature that I’ve mentioned so many times in these pages over the past 13 weeks. Those of you who read the post on August 27th about the mowing down of a large stand of snow-on-the-prairie, Euphorbia marginata, may be pleased with this follow-up.

On August 29th I e-mailed the director of the parks district that includes Brushy Creek Lake Park, explaining what had happened and pointing him to the August 27th post. The next day he called me and said that after my e-mail he went out to the park and confirmed the details for himself. He told me that he has issued new orders: from now on, the large meadow in the park will be mowed only once a year, probably in late November. If a situation should arise that a mower thinks might warrant mowing at another time, that person will have to get permission from the director or assistant director. Let’s hope that the new policy goes forth as planned, and that no mower chooses to ignore it or claims after-the-fact ignorance of it following another act of destruction.

Two days after that phone call I went back to the park. It was August 31, the last day of the same month on whose first day I witnessed the devastation of the large snow-on-the-prairie colony. Although the great meadow was still a sorry sight, with only a few plants having sprung up in the ruins of the mowing, I found a few smaller groups of snow-on-the-prairie farther west that escaped the mowing and had continued to grow and flourish. I took pictures, including the one above, of those plants, some of which were as tall as I am.

In my previous posts I didn’t explain the name snow-on-the-mountain, so let me do that now. The “snow” is obviously the white bracts and other flower-related structures the plant produces when it matures. The “mountain” in the name is a reference to the Texas Hill Country that begins in Austin and stretches westward. A closely related and equally photogenic species, Euphorbia bicolor, grows on the relatively flat east side of Austin, and is therefore called snow-on-the-prairie.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 4, 2011 at 6:00 AM

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