Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

More from the mountain side

with 6 comments

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

6 Responses

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  1. What a lovely image – their flexibility is probably how they survive. Their forgiving nature opens more habitat for them. Is there a life lesson there? Happy Sunday.


    October 30, 2011 at 9:22 AM

    • I like your insight about flexibility as a way of increasing the likelihood of survival. Seems like that could indeed be a life lesson. Happy Sunday to you too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 30, 2011 at 10:01 AM

  2. Perhaps those downward curves were induced by mower-sorrow, and the upward curving by a determination to thrive and bloom in spite of it all. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

    And I hope the people responsible keep to their pledge to keep the mowers in check.


    October 30, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    • That’s a great story to have and to be sticking to. Thanks for telling it to us. And I’m with you in hoping that the park powers stay true to their pledge. We’ll see….

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 30, 2011 at 3:09 PM

  3. This photo is beautiful, especially the color of the sky. Here in my city we have a park wherein a section with trees all bent due to wind. I also really like the notion of flexibility which your first commenter suggested.


    October 30, 2011 at 10:33 PM

    • Thank you, Arti. Because of the continuing drought, we’ve had more blue skies here this year than any other I can remember. That’s bad in its own right, but good in this case for the contrast the blue offers to the color of the stems of the snow-on-the-mountain. It’s the front-most plant that curves close to 180°, but all of these plants are flexible in their very existence, as the ground they’re growing on is normally under water.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 31, 2011 at 2:20 AM

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