Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for October 30th, 2011

More from the mountain side

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On August 2 I introduced you to a wonderful native plant called snow-on-the-mountain, Euphorbia marginata. You first saw this species flowering on August 27 and had a closer look at its flowers and bracts on August 28. You also saw snow-on-the-mountain in a few posts after that.

Then time passed, and by mid-October most of these plants were past their floral prime and had gone on to produce their small, green, three-lobed seed capsules. That was the stage of the plants you see here, which sprang up on land that had been at the bottom of a pond until the drought of 2011 caused so many small bodies of water to evaporate.

I’ve noticed that sometimes the stems of snow-on-the-mountain, which typically have a reddish or orange cast, can be contorted, as is the plant in the foreground of today’s landscape. Notice how its stem emerges from the ground heading downward at about 45°, then gradually turns in a semicircular arc that leaves it growing almost opposite to its original direction. At that point the plant seems to have woken up to gravity, and the stem begins curving a bit the other way and heads largely upward and parallel to its neighbors. The strong curving of the stalk at its base strikes me as a strange phenomenon, and that’s why I want to show it to you. Happy strangeness.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 30, 2011 at 5:09 AM

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