Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

It’s snow-on-the-prairie time

with 24 comments

Went out onto the Blackland Prairie in Manor on September 19th.
Saw snow-on-the-prairie (Euphorbia bicolor) in several places.
Couldn’t decide which view to show, so am showing two.

If you’re interested in the art of photography, points 6 and 15 in About My Techniques are relevant.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 25, 2020 at 4:30 AM

24 Responses

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  1. Though you didn’t ask for a preference, mine is the first. I like the softer, more subtle highlights and the overall gentler watercolor mood. When I read your title, I was expecting to see some actual early autumn snow. I should have known better.


    September 25, 2020 at 4:49 AM

    • Originally I’d included only the first picture. The softness and subtlety that you pointed out are my reasons for liking it. The second view is more like photographs I’ve featured here in other years. As for actual snow, Austin gets a trifle maybe twice in a decade, but never this much sooner than the end of the year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 25, 2020 at 6:24 AM

    • I should add that the second picture plays up colors beyond white and green that also characterize this plant: the red of the stems and the yellow-orange of aging leaves.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 25, 2020 at 6:27 AM

  2. Your title fooled me for a moment into believing that you had some snow in some higher elevation in Texas. But since we had no new snow in the nearby mountains, I thought it’d be if not impossible then at least highly improbable. The flowers you showed us today definitely deserve their snowy name.

    Peter Klopp

    September 25, 2020 at 9:00 AM

  3. You did not have me fooled for a minute. But maybe a second. I see your point about more is more. In this case it makes a beautiful overall texture.

    Michael Scandling

    September 25, 2020 at 9:47 AM

  4. Both of these images are calming. I’ve never seen this wildflower, but a field of it would be enchanting.


    September 26, 2020 at 7:16 AM

    • The leaves are soft and therefore enjoyable to touch. Here’s the BONAP map showing which Oklahoma counties snow-on-the-prairie has been documented in:

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 26, 2020 at 7:48 AM

      • Darn it! The closest area is two counties east of us.


        September 26, 2020 at 9:36 AM

        • Hey, what’s two counties to a red-blooded, car-driving American?

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 26, 2020 at 9:57 AM

          • It’s called too much to do around here!! Ha ha! Until I can enjoy a slower pace of life, I’ll just enjoy your beautiful photographs!


            September 26, 2020 at 9:59 AM

  5. Now that I know there’s a disjunct section of Blackland prairie nearer to me, it might be worth a trip in that direction to see if those prairies are covered in snow. On the other hand, there’s ‘snow’ at Brazos Bend, too; I saw a large field of it, but don’t know which species it might be. I was surprised to find yet another Euphorbia species at Sandylands: E. corollata. Its flowers have only the small, petal-like bracts of this one, but the family relationship’s pretty clear.

    Laughed at your description. Maybe interest in abstraction moving from photography to language?


    September 26, 2020 at 8:20 AM

    • Maybe. There are languages—Spanish being the most familiar—that don’t require a sentence to have an overt subject. English can get away with that in certain kinds of discourse, but it’s what linguists call “marked,” which is to say not the normal form.

      There’s eight zillion (give or take a zillion) species of Euphorbia. With such large numbers, the Euphorbia species cluster into groups with closer resemblances within the group than to members of other groups. There’s snow-on-the-prairie near you, as you said, but I wonder if it’s denser when you head inland.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 26, 2020 at 9:15 AM

      • That’s interesting about languages that don’t require an overt subject. I didn’t know that, and it’s another insight into the English spoken by some of the native Spanish speakers I know.


        September 26, 2020 at 9:18 AM

        • Yes, you’ll often hear a Spanish speaker who doesn’t know English well say a subjectless sentence like “Is good.” One thing that lets Spanish suppress subjects is the fact that Spanish verbs have endings that can’t be dropped and that usually give away the subject, for example: creemos ‘we believe’ versus crees ‘you believe,’ so there’s no need to add ‘we’ and ‘you.’ Because English has almost entirely lost its verb endings (the third-person present tense being the last systematic remnant), we need the overt subject to indicate who we’re talking about.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 26, 2020 at 9:55 AM

  6. […] into two groups of two according to color: yellow Maximilian sunflowers and goldenrod, plus white snow-on-the-prairie (or -mountain) and poverty weed. It’s the last of those, Baccharis neglecta, that you see […]

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