Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 7 comments

Euphorbia cyathophora; click for greater detail.

We’ve had several posts about snow-on-the-prairie and snow-on-the-mountain, two similar species of Euphorbia whose common names refer to the plants’ conspicuous white bracts. Now I’m here to tell you that there’s yet another species in Austin, Euphorbia cyathophora, shown above, whose colorful bracts have led people to call it fire-on-the-mountain. While the fire is accurate enough as a metaphor, the mountain is misleading, because this plant grows in most parts of Texas, whether exalted or lowly. And if the plant makes you think of Christmas, even though we’ve just entered October, the alternate name wild poinsettia may give you solace. (The better-known poinsettia is a relative from Mexico, Euphorbia pulcherrima.) Note the green fruit capsules, which like so many other species in this genus have three clearly delineated compartments in them.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 9, 2011 at 5:23 AM

7 Responses

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  1. This is something I’m seeing the first time! Thank you very much for a unique photo like this!


    October 10, 2011 at 7:36 AM

  2. Steve, thanks for visiting my blog – your comment was ‘lost’ in the spam filter along with a few others for a short while. This plant would certainly make a good alternative to our traditional poinsettia. We have just put out ours along the sun terrace and they are basking in the HK sunshine. Some winter fire-on-the-mountain would go nicely alongside.


    December 18, 2011 at 7:47 PM

    • I’ve had that happen to me a few times, so I’d better check my spam filter to see if anything legitimate has been trapped there. It was news to me that poinsettias, already remote in Texas and the rest of the United States from the species’ home in Mexico, have made their way to the other side of the world. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 18, 2011 at 8:09 PM

  3. […] 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 and rather unshowy […]

  4. […] because the two are in the same (and very large) genus. So are the Texas natives fire-on-the-mountain, snow-on-the-mountain, and […]

  5. […] that you saw nine days ago. To complete the triumvirate, you can also check out the fire-on-the-mountain that made its one and only appearance in these pages in […]

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