Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Red, white, and blue—plus purple

with 5 comments

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

5 Responses

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  1. I love that you lay on the ground to take that image. So often we (humans) forget to take the viewpoint of another being. What does an insect see? How difficult was the task of growing straight up? Look at how beautiful the blue sky is in contrast to those other colors – how balanced nature frames her work.


    September 5, 2011 at 9:12 AM

    • Thanks, Dawn. Lying on the ground (or kneeling with my head bent down near the ground and looking back up) has given me different perspectives (literally and figuratively) on nature. I was out getting my daily dose of that this morning, primarily with some more small stands of snow-on-the-mountain that I found in a couple of locations that were new to me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 5, 2011 at 1:34 PM

  2. What a great angle of view- it makes the picture far more interesting that it would have been. Bravo!

    Watching Seasons

    September 5, 2011 at 6:00 PM

    • Agreed. This is the way many animals would see the scene. Just call me an animal with a camera.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 5, 2011 at 6:29 PM

  3. […] I wandered along Brushy Creek on August 31, in addition to snow-on-the-prairie and eryngo I found peppervine, Ampelopsis arborea. This native vine’s leaves look somewhat like those of […]

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