Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Snow-on-the-prairie not on the prairie

with 17 comments

Snow-on-the-Prairie Flowering 5091

All right, so the Blunn Creek Preserve in south Austin isn’t a prairie, but there on September 14th I found this happily flowering snow-on-the-prairie, Euphorbia bicolor. You don’t have to speak Latin to recognize that the two colors the bicolor refers to are green and white.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 27, 2015 at 4:48 AM

17 Responses

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  1. South Austin isn’t a prairie but neither is Euphorbia bicolor snow.


    September 27, 2015 at 5:37 AM

  2. This also grows beautifully in my yard in Western Pennsylvania, not prairie either, and not really snow–that’s a few months from now. It’s a wonderful and rare tall mix with darker green plants.


    September 27, 2015 at 9:48 AM

    • That’s the first I’ve ever heard of anyone cultivating this plant outside its native range:


      Even here where the species is common, I think most people who know about it probably consider it a weed and wouldn’t think of cultivating it. I’m with you, however, in finding it wonderful.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 27, 2015 at 10:49 AM

  3. This is one happy plant. Interesting to think of growing it in a garden. It would make a handsome specimen.


    September 27, 2015 at 12:27 PM

  4. Here’s a neat coincidence. On the 12th and 13th of September, I was photographing Euphorbia marginata, snow-on-the-mountain, just at the foot of the “mountains” between Kerrville and Medina.

    There were some fields still filled with it, but the plants had become gangly, and clearly were over the hill in more than a geographic way. I wasn’t sure until I got home and double-checked whether I’d found prairie snow or mountain snow, but I’m convinced now it’s snow-on-the-mountain. I’ll be posting the photo in the future, and if I’ve got it wrong, you can tell me.

    It was neat to recognize the difference between the flowers and the brachts. I remembered that from your posts, and explained it to my Kerrville friend, who was duly impressed.


    September 27, 2015 at 8:45 PM

    • Over here the difference is usually a geographic one, with Euphorbia marginata almost always on the “mountainous” west side of town and Euphorbia bicolor on the prairie side to the east. I know the USDA maps show that it’s not generally that simple, but in and right around Austin it seems to be so. I suspect you’re right that what you saw near Kerrville and Medina was mountain snow.

      The upper bracts of snow-on-the-prairie are narrower and softer than those of snow-on-the-mountain, which strike me as somewhat rubbery.

      Good to hear that your Kerrville friend was duly impressed by the distinction between the flowers and bracts of these species.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 27, 2015 at 9:17 PM

  5. A snow-on-the-prairie by any other name…

    Steve Gingold

    October 2, 2015 at 5:17 AM

    • Yesterday I saw some snow-on-the-prairie mixed in with goldenrod, which is finally going great guns.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 2, 2015 at 5:24 AM

  6. Several varieties of Euphorbia are wildly popular as ornamentals in our gardens here locally, but I have never seen Euphorbia bicolor; looks like a very interesting variety.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    October 4, 2015 at 7:21 PM

    • Don’t feel bad about not being familiar with Euphorbia bicolor. There are about two thousand species in the genus Euphorbia! Here in central Texas Euphorbia bicolor and the similar Euphorbia marginata (snow-on-the-mountain) are a delight in late summer and early fall.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2015 at 10:14 PM

  7. […] may remember the recent picture of a flowering snow-on-the-prairie, Euphorbia bicolor, from September 14th at the Blunn Creek Preserve in south Austin. On October 8th […]

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