Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Intimations of autumn in Austin

with 16 comments

The last post showed you some signs of incipient autumn in the Canadian Rockies. Even before flying up there on August 24th, I was seeing evidence in Austin of what I call botanical autumn. One herald was this flowering snow-on-the-mountain (Euphorbia marginata) that I photographed in Great Hills Park on August 21st after I’d colanderized the eclipse.

In the days ahead I’ll interpolate some other pictures of Austin’s botanical autumn into the continuing display of photographs from the trip to Alberta, British Columbia, and Montana.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 2, 2017 at 4:43 AM

16 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. That’s a stunning euphorbia!


    October 2, 2017 at 5:05 AM

    • It is. The genus includes some 2000 species around the world, so there’s something to please everyone. I wish more people in my area appreciated this one.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 2, 2017 at 5:21 AM

  2. This is a beauty. Green and white leaves and white and green flowers. Actually looks like it is made out of paper. You have captured a particularly lovely shape here Steve.


    October 2, 2017 at 5:26 AM

    • I’m with you on the colors and shapes, Jude. The flowers, however, aren’t what they seem. Botanically speaking, “each flower in the head is reduced to its barest essential part needed for sexual reproduction. The individual flowers are either male or female, with the male flowers reduced to only the stamen, and the females to the pistil. These flowers have no sepals, petals, or other parts that are typical of flowers in other kinds of plants.” Strange, huh? If you’d like, you can read more about the unique structures of Euphorbias in the article at


      Steve Schwartzman

      October 2, 2017 at 5:41 AM

  3. What an absolutely beautiful specimen. I spent a good bit of time last weekend trying to find a nice example of this plant, but they were scattered, muddy, bent, nibbled, or otherwise less than lovely. If I can get out of our expanded flood plain, I suspect I’ll find some.

    It was interesting to read about the structure. I knew about the difference between the flowers and the bracts, but the article helped to make better sense of the flowers. I once found a plant that had just-a-flower tucked in among the mass of bracts-and-flowers. It looked odd and appealing all at the same time, but there’s no question that when they’re fresh and crisp, the bracts are as striking as the flowers (which do qualify as “white flowers” in my book).


    October 2, 2017 at 7:45 AM

    • As we drove from Austin to Houston on August 24th we saw plenty of stands of snow-on-the-prairie along US 290 that looked fresh. When we retraced the route the other way three weeks later, I didn’t notice as many (maybe I was tired and eager to get home). I’d meant to go back out in the following days and look closely but never got around to it. Now it’s probably too late. Let’s hope you still find some fresh “snow” near you.

      You’re with most people in seeing these as white flowers, whatever the technicalities.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 2, 2017 at 9:06 AM

  4. pretty little ones, Steve! 🙂


    October 2, 2017 at 9:21 AM

  5. That’s the kind of snow I like. It’s unlikely to give me frost bite or chilblains.


    October 3, 2017 at 5:39 AM

    • One reason I moved to Texas was to get away from the cold I’d grown up with in the northeastern United States. At the time, four decades ago, I knew nothing about snow-on-the-mountain and snow-on-the-prairie. While those plants don’t chill a person’s body, they do have a milky latex that irritates some people’s skin.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 3, 2017 at 7:08 AM

  6. I wouldn’t have classified this as a Euphorbia at first glance. The soft muted tones of this create harmony. A very ‘photographic’ plant.


    October 3, 2017 at 8:35 AM

    • From what I’ve read and seen online, the genus Euphorbia is so large (2000 species!) and widespread that some of its members look quite different from others. In some parts of the world, for example, Euphorbias have taken over the role filled by cacti.

      In any case, I’ve always found snow-on-the-mountain to be, as you said, a very photographic plant.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 3, 2017 at 8:58 AM

  7. I’ve never seen one. It is very beautiful; almost looks like an elegant hand-painted brooch.

    Lavinia Ross

    October 9, 2017 at 2:09 PM

    • From time to time over the years of this blog people have suggested a certain flower would make good jewelry, usually earrings or a brooch. I’ve encouraged people to follow up on that, but so far no one has shown me a piece of jewelry based on one of the plants shown here.

      Your state is one of the few in which this species has not been attested. It’s in the same genus as poinsettia, which you may see a resemblance to.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 9, 2017 at 2:36 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: