Ft. Worth Prairie, Part_2

There has been and probably always will be confusion over the names of ‘Snow on the Mountain’ vs. ‘Snow on the Prairie’. I hope this will help clear up some of the confusion about what plants were seen on the Prairie Field trip to Bear Creek.

Consider the following quotes, information, and photos from the LBJ Wildflower Center, the USDA Database, the BRIT Book on the Wildflowers of North Central Texas, pp. 606-608, and the “Wildflowers of the Texas Hill County” by Marshall Enquist.

Euphorbia marginata Pursh
Snow on the mountain, Snow-on-the-Mountain
Euphorbiaceae (Spurge Family)
USDA Symbol: EUMA8
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.

Grown as much for its foliage as for its flowers, snow-on-the-mountain’s small but showy leaves may be light green, variegated or entirely white. They clasp erect, many-branched stems which grow 1-3 ft. tall. Tiny flowers, each with whitish, petal-like bracts, are borne in clusters atop the stems. Calcareous uplands to stream bottoms. A native of West Texas east to a line from Bell to Cooke counties (this would bisect Tarrant county, per Troy).

Note the short, wide upper leaves on the Snow-on-the-mountain plants.

Be sure to click on the photos for enlarged views.

Photo 1 from our Prairie Trip
1 snow-on_the mountain

Photo 2 from our Prairie Trip
2 snow mountain-2See page 90 of the Hill Country Wildflower Book
for an almost identical photo.

Photo from the LBJ Wildflower Center
3 snow mountain-LBJ

Photo from the USDA Plant Database
4 snow mountain USDA

Distribution in Texas for
5 snow-mountain USDA-dist-in texas

Note that Snow-on-the-Mountain is basically a West Texas Plant.

Again, quotes from the LBJ Wildflower Center and BRIT North Central Texas Book

Euphorbia bicolor Engelm. & Gray
Snow on the prairie, Snow-on-the-prairie
Euphorbiaceae (Spurge Family)
USDA Symbol: EUBI2
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.

This plant grows 1–4 feet tall. Its slender upper leaves, 2–4 inches long, are green, edged with a narrow band of white. The lower leaves are alternate, grow close to the stem, and lack the white edging. They are 1–1 1/4 inches long. The numerous, inconspicuous flowers grow in terminal clusters. They are white, have no petals, and are either staminate (1 stamen) or pistillate (1 pistil). Clusters group together to form larger clusters surrounded by numerous leaflike bracts which are conspicuously white-margined, 1 1/8–2 1/8 inches long and about 1/4 inch wide. When the stem is broken it exudes a white, milky sap that is irritating to the skin of some persons.

E. bicolor (Snow on the Prairie) is often confused with a similar species, E. marginata (Snow on the Mountain) which has shorter, wider bracts.

Mainly in East Texas west to the Blackland Prairie and Grand Prairie, also in Montague Co. sw to Johnson Co., where the ranges overlap and to complicate matters, intermediates may be found.

Notice the much longer, narrow upper leaves on Snow-on-the-Prairie.

Photo from the LBJ Wildflower Center
6 snow-prairie-LBJ

Photo from the USDA Plant Database
7 snow-prairie-USDA

Photographed in NE Tarrant County
by Martha Mullens ©2009
8 Snow-Prairie Martha

Distribution in Texas for
9 snow-prairie USDA_dist-in texas

Note that Snow-on-the-Prairie is basically an East Texas Plant.

I hope this helps.

Leave a comment, Please.

Troy and Martha

About Troy

Retired Scientist and Naturalist. Avid Bible reader
This entry was posted in Ft. Worth Prairie, Grand Prairie, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Naturalists, Prairie, USDA Plant Database, Wildflowers and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Ft. Worth Prairie, Part_2

  1. Thanks for this great article! It explains a lot! Around Austin TX, late August and early September 2016 I have observed and photographed Snow-on-the-Prairie East of IH 35 in the better soil, farmland prairie areas such as east Georgetown, TX (east of IH 35) and the Blackland Prairie black clay soil of Manor, Texas. West of IH 35 I have noticed and photographed Snow-on-the-Mountain near Leander, Florence, Willow City and Concan to name a few. So the names make sense- prairie vs “mountain” Hill Country- the Edward’s Plateau region.

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