Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Prairie wind blowing snow-on-the-prairie

with 13 comments

Click for greater size and clarity.

On August 15, about an hour and twenty minutes before I took the picture that you saw yesterday, I took this one, which gives you a closer look at the plant picturesquely called snow-on-the-prairie. Botanists know it as Euphorbia bicolor, with the two colors being the (snowy) white and the green that dominate this scene. I’d stopped along US 290 near Elgin, some 25 miles east of Austin, and although it was still only about 9:30 in the morning, the prairie wind was already blowing, so I used a speed of 1/500 second to stop the sometimes frenzied motion of these slender and therefore easily buffeted plants.

This species grows throughout the eastern third of Texas; the east side of Austin is at the western edge of the plant’s range.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 31, 2012 at 6:03 AM

13 Responses

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  1. Das sieht wunderschön aus!!


    August 31, 2012 at 6:24 AM

    • Yes, it’s wonderful to see a colony of snow-on-the-prairie (or its similar-looking relative snow-on-the-mountain) in August. Both of them flower at this hottest time of the year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 31, 2012 at 6:41 AM

  2. They’re beautiful plants. This looks as though it might be a detail from an Andrew Wyeth painting. Just lovely.


    August 31, 2012 at 6:59 AM

    • Thanks for the comparison. I looked online to see if Andrew Wyeth ever did a painting in Texas, but I couldn’t find anything. I’m glad that you find this view lovely, as I did.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 31, 2012 at 7:40 AM

  3. I love the name “snow on the prairie.” To me, it says, come look and see!


    August 31, 2012 at 8:11 AM

  4. Another stunning photograph from you. Always a pleasure to come over here!

    Susan Scheid

    August 31, 2012 at 7:38 PM

  5. […] recently saw some pictures of Euphorbia bicolor, colloquially known as snow-on-the-prairie because it grows in the eastern […]

  6. […] soft and narrow leaves supporting the bug as those of snow-on-the-prairie, Euphorbia bicolor, which you’ve seen here several times […]

  7. A friend and I took a drive today, just to see what we might see. What we saw were acres and acres and miles and miles of snow-on-the-prairie, in an area bounded roughly by TX35 to the north, between Alvin and Angleton, and the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge to the south. We criss-crossed that area on county roads, and it was breath-taking. I’ve never seen such stands of wildflowers – well, except in some of your photos.

    We didn’t know what it was, of course, and it was hard to find a place to get close to them because of fences and ditches. I finally did, pulled one and brought it home. (Note to self: now that I’ve bought those wildflower books, I need to carry them with me. Lesson learned.)

    If I can get things organized around here tonight I’m going back early in the morning with my camera. What I can capture, I’m not sure, but it’ll be worth the trip anyway. It was quite a sight to see.


    September 1, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    • It’s great that you found such a huge stand of snow-on-the-prairie, much larger than any I’ve ever seen. Too bad the area you describe is a few hours from Austin, or I’d head over there to see such dense colonies. Good luck with your picture taking when you head back in the morning. (One word of caution about snow-on-the-prairie: it has a milky latex in it that is reported to irritate some people’s skin.) And yes, it’s a good idea to carry those wildflower books with you. I keep my older (and bedraggled) copy of Enquist in the trunk of my car.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 1, 2013 at 10:44 PM

  8. […] I think the plant making its debut here today is toothed spurge, Euphorbia dentata, a rather inconspicuous native species. I’ve occasionally found it in my back yard, but I photographed this one half a mile away, in Great Hills Park, on October 2. If you sense a vague resemblance to poinsettia—though with white rather than red, and a Texan rather than a Mexican origin—that’s 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 snow-on-the-prairie. […]

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