Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

White and green are also red

with 6 comments

Snow-on-the-Prairie Bracts and Flowers Close 7279A

You 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 I went back and was pleased to see that the bush still had flowers on it. Granted, those flowers were beginning to look a bit old, but that’s hardly surprising after three weeks.

Now that you’ve had a closer view than before of the flowers and bracts, let me also show you the colorful stalk that this plant typically has. Think of a red candelabra if you wish. I was able to get an unimpeded shot of the stalk and branches because work has been going on to remove invasive non-native species from the preserve. By the time of my second visit, this snow-on-the-prairie was the only plant left standing in what had become a little clearing in the woods. I remember on my first visit having to hold some non-native things down to take my pictures, which looked in the opposite direction from the one of the stalk, and also having to aim carefully to exclude a couple of non-native trees from the background. Now you understand what an exclusive blog this is.

Snow-on-the-Prairie Stalk and Branches 7270

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 19, 2015 at 5:01 AM

6 Responses

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  1. I am quite fond of red stalks with green plants. The two colors are so complimentary and complementary.

    Steve Gingold

    October 19, 2015 at 5:45 AM

    • Going by what we have in central Texas, plants in the Euphorbiaceae, or spurge family, seem more likely than those in other families to favor red stalks. I’m with you in seeing the contrast with greenery as both complimentary and complementary. (The two words were originally the same but modern spelling has differentiated the meanings—and has led many people to write one when they mean the other.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 19, 2015 at 7:38 AM

  2. I am not familiar with that Euphorbia, it is absolutely gorgeous.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    October 19, 2015 at 4:51 PM

  3. I didn’t think of a candelabra, but of umbrella ribs, turned inside out by the wind and stripped of their covering. Does snow-on-the-mountain turn red, too? The colonies I saw a few weeks ago were tall, but their substantial stalks still were a golden-green. Perhaps it was too early in the season.

    You mentioned that the area’s being cleared, and it led me to wonder: does added sunlight lead to more intense color in the stalks?


    October 20, 2015 at 8:16 AM

    • Now you’ve got me wondering. I looked back at the pictures I took on September 14, but in all of them I had crouched and aimed partly upward, so the lower portion of the main stalk wasn’t visible. Unfortunately I don’t recall whether the base was already red at that stage. Someone out there probably knows the typical rate of color progression, but you’ve made me realize that I don’t.

      Yes, snow-on-the-mountain stalks tend to turn a similar red. At


      you can see the color beginning to creep in, and all the stalks at


      have become red. I also don’t know whether added sunshine enhances the stalks’ color change.A similar question about a rare native plant came up in one of the talks at the symposium this past weekend. In that case people did a study and found that the plant does do better when there’s more sun than it gets in the rather shady places that are now its only habitat in Austin.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 20, 2015 at 9:01 AM

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