Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Dynamic snow-on-the-prairie

with 27 comments

Here’s a dynamic look at snow-on-the-prairie, Euphorbia bicolor,
at Parmer Lane and Wildhorse Ranch in Manor on August 24th.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 6, 2019 at 4:48 AM

27 Responses

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  1. Very cool flower. It looks like there is a chase going on in the background.

    Steve Gingold

    September 6, 2019 at 4:59 AM

    • The background is one reason the word dynamic came to mind. I assume a spider had pulled the bracts together to make a little shelter.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 6, 2019 at 5:41 AM

      • That is a good guess. There are many leaf-rollers and I would think a few petal rollers as well.

        Steve Gingold

        September 6, 2019 at 6:20 PM

        • It’s pretty common for me to see leaves or petals that have been pulled out of their normal position. However, I’m not sure I’ve ever come across an insect or spider in the process of doing that.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 6, 2019 at 7:00 PM

  2. I really like the soft colours in this one.


    September 6, 2019 at 7:26 AM

  3. One of my favorite plants! Beautiful photo–it looks like it’s stretching to meet the day.


    September 6, 2019 at 7:45 AM

  4. These are striped leaves, and not petals, right? It’s a very attractive plant, and not one I’ve ever seen.

    Robert Parker

    September 6, 2019 at 7:56 AM

    • You’re correct: what many people might take for petals are bracts, which is to say modified leaves. Even the little white collar visible between two bracts is not part of the flower; only the tiny elements at the center are the actual flower.

      This plant grows only in the south-central part of the country, so you wouldn’t have come across it. When we drove the final stretch of our trip, from Houston to Austin, we saw fields full of snow-on-the-prairie.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 6, 2019 at 8:09 AM

  5. Even the humble little prairie flower looks beautiful as captured by your camera, Steve!

    Peter Klopp

    September 6, 2019 at 9:08 AM

  6. Imagine my surprise. I had no idea such a plant existed. But I’m glad it does. This is a beautiful presentation of it.

    Michael Scandling

    September 6, 2019 at 9:48 AM

  7. Eloquent and paused before becoming into its full “self.”


    September 6, 2019 at 2:05 PM

    • You’ve raised the interesting and perhaps unanswerable question of the extent to which a plant has a sense of self.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 6, 2019 at 2:21 PM

  8. Personally, I saw this little beauty as shy: attempting to hide its tiny little flower from the lens of the lurking photographer, but without success.

    I used that little collar around the flower to solve a mystery last weekend. I made a trip to the Sandyland Sanctuary, hoping to photograph late summer flowers. I only lasted two hours before the heat got to me, but I found a plant I’d never seen. I noticed a similar collar around its center, and remembered snow-on-the-prairies-and-mountains. Sure enough, it turned out to be flowering spurge: Euphorbia corollata. I didn’t get a decent photo, but this at least shows the detail. It’s shown on the USDA map as around you, but not in Travis County proper.


    September 7, 2019 at 7:18 AM

    • You’re ever the anthropomorphizer—or is it anthropomorphist? I just did a search and found many examples of both forms. Which, if either, would you call yourself? If that seems too detailed a distinction, you may be anthropo-amorphous.

      I always find it gratifying when familiarity with one plant gives me a clue about another, letting me settle on the genus or at least the family. Of course appearances can deceive, and convergent evolution sometimes ends up unsettling what I thought I’d settled.

      While the USDA map may not show Euphorbia corollata in Travis County, Bill Carr’s plant guide for the county says this about the species: “Normally associated with sandy soils but occasionally found in heavy clays of Blackland Prairie sites and on Cretaceous limestone along the eastern edge of the Balcones Escarpment. Apparently rare within Travis County; no recent reports or specimens.” He gives one confirmation of the species from 1929. All in all, he lists 11 species of Euphorbia and the same number for Chamaesyce, which has been segregated out of Euphorbia. A few of those 22 I recognize, but most I can’t. Sometimes it’s even hard to tell whether a plant is snow-on-the-mountain or snow-on-the-prairie because the two can interbreed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 7, 2019 at 7:42 AM

  9. I like this. I like the bright light and petals that look like a hand with delicate fingers!


    September 7, 2019 at 7:25 AM

    • Like Linda in the previous comment, you’ve heard anthropomorphism knocking on your door and opened up to let it in. What seem to many people to be long petals in this species are actually bracts, which is to say modified leaves. Botanists tell us that the actual flowers are the tiny, inconspicuous elements at the very center of the white “collar.” Surprising, isn’t it?

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 7, 2019 at 7:47 AM

      • That’s right Steve! Thanks for the refresher! Yes, I remember reading about the ray flowers.


        September 7, 2019 at 7:51 AM

  10. Wow that is really special, thank you. I’ve not seen this plant before (not to imply I have seen all others).


    September 7, 2019 at 8:26 PM

    • I’d lived in Austin for two decades before I got interested in native plants, so I probably saw snow-on-the-prairie many times without it registering. Now when I go around I see many “friends” that make this area the place it is, and different from other places. Snow-on-the-prairie grows only in the south-central states, so if you’re elsewhere you wouldn’t get the chance to see it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 7, 2019 at 9:10 PM

  11. […] last few days, Steve and I have remarked about a couple of things, hornet nests and leaf-roller spiders.  As luck would […]

  12. Great shot Steve! The background is superb ..


    September 9, 2019 at 7:39 PM

    • Backgrounds count for so much. The “ghost” of a snow-on-the-prairie in the background here is what made the portrait special for me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 9, 2019 at 9:07 PM

  13. […] any I recall making of this species. You’re welcome to compare the similar yet different snow-on-the-prairie that you saw nine days ago. To complete the triumvirate, you can also check out the […]

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