Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for September 5th, 2011

Red, white, and blue—plus purple

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The stem of a snow-on-the-prairie plant, Euphorbia marginata, grows straight and tall, often rising several feet before branching into three, always three, proof that plants learned to count before people did. In a colony of these numerate* plants, the tripartite branches and any secondary branches form a canopy that it is possible to sit underneath and look up at. So sat I—actually lay on the ground—on the clear morning of August 31 and looked upward. Notice at the bottom right how the lower portion of the plant’s stalk often turns reddish-orange. Note also how the plant’s approximately elliptical leaves grow upright and therefore almost parallel to the stalk they emerge from. But in the opposite corner of the picture, offset against the blue of the sky, what are those more than a dozen little patches of purple? Look this way next time and find out.


* In the world of words, literate means ‘knowing your letters,’ which is to say ‘knowing how to read and write.’ The parallel term in the world of numbers is numerate, ‘knowing arithmetic.’

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 5, 2011 at 5:45 AM

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