Snow On The Mountain (Euphorbia marginata) is one of the few late summer plants that grows well in my garden. They’ve been in bloom for a couple of weeks now, adding at least a little color to my barren landscape. For information on this flower please see my post from earlier this year.
The close-up below highlights the intricate detail of the plant’s small flower clusters.
Here’s an even closer view. These flowers measure only about 3/8 of an inch across. If you don’t look closely at this plant you might miss the blooms altogether, as the most striking part of it remains the variegated white and green leaves.
The seeds of Euphorbia marginata take a while to form and dry. I usually end up picking the small pods off the plant and crushing them so I can drop the seeds where I’d like them to come up. The number of plants that come up in my garden doesn’t change much from one year to the next, so I’m guessing the rate of germination for these seeds isn’t very high.
Though small, the flowers do attract pollinators. Most of my plants, as they get larger, seem to be inhabited by a spider or two, also.
Snow On The Mountain (Euphorbia marginata) is a great addition to any garden, especially for those of us who must put up with hot, dry summers. They’re drought-tolerant and at this time of the year they brighten up an area that has reverted to mostly foliage.
Have you ever gotten up-close and personal with any of those tiny flowers you find growing wild in your back yard or that have crept into your garden space to nestle alongside your Narcissus and Phlox?
I decided to do just that over the past few days.
It’s amazing what we trod upon as we go about our daily business.
Are these plants somehow not as important as those we lovingly cultivate through seeds, bulbs or cuttings?
In some cases, probably not.
Some of these small flowering plants are considered to be invasives. If not actually invasive, they may still be non-natives.
And most of them are probably referred to with that dreaded word — weed.
Whatever they may be considered — wildflower, weed, native, invasive — they’re still quite beautiful close up.
Do you ever remember picking a Dandelion head, making a wish and blowing the puff into the air, watching as the little white bits floated away on a light breeze? I did this all the time as a child. Of course, at that time I wasn’t aware that I was actually broadcasting the seeds of what most people consider a weed. The little yellow flowers were pretty, the puffs were sometimes enormous in size and it was just something kids took pleasure in doing. Sometimes I still do it when my inner child can’t be controlled!
Just what is a Dandelion? Its botanical name is Taraxacum officinale. It is found in pastures, fields, farmlands, meadows, wastelands, playgrounds, schoolyards, front yards and back yards. It also goes by the monikers of Blowball, Faceclock, Lion’s Tooth, Wild Endive, Milk Witch, Bitterwort, Chicoria, Witch’s Gowan, Fortune-Teller, Cankerwort, Swine’s Snout, Irish Daisy and Wet-A-Bed. And probably many more depending on the region!
Is the Dandelion a weed? Most people probably consider it so, though it’s not listed on the USDA’s Federal Noxious Weed List. Your local lawn service company considers it a weed, one to be eliminated forthwith. Farmers everywhere despise it as a weed because it tends to infest crops. Most gardeners detest Dandelions!
Is the Dandelion a wildflower? Well, it’s a flower and it grows in the wild so one could make a case for it being a wildflower. The Dandelion is actually a member of the Aster family so it has a lot of relatives that we consider wildflowers. Why should we dump on the little Dandelion then and call it a weed?
Is the Dandelion something in between? Maybe. The fact is, the Dandelion is a perennial that is often coveted as an herb. The leaves, flowers and roots of these plants are all edible and can be used in many ways. Dandelion salad recipes are available in cookbooks. The roots can be used in soups. And of course the flowers are used to make Dandelion wine! I’ve heard stories of how wonderful all these concoctions are, but I think I’ll stick to blowing on the seed heads!
Here are some interesting facts about Dandelions:
The name ‘Dandelion’ derives from the French dent de lion, meaning lion’s tooth, which references the plant’s jagged leaves
The Dandelion was brought to North America from Europe by early Spanish and English settlers
Dandelions are rich in potassium and calcium
Practitioners of folk medicine use Dandelions for many purposes, such as to treat liver disorders and as a diuretic
Roots of some Dandelions, normally six to eight inches long, have been found to extend for up to fifteen feet beneath the ground
Dandelions are cultivated as a crop in Belgium, France, Germany and China
Dandelion tea is available to consumers in the herbal tea sections of many drugstores and supermarkets
So what’s the verdict? What will you see the next time you come across a Dandelion — wildflower, weed or something in between?
Snow On The Mountain (Euphorbia marginata) is a slow growing, self-seeding annual. These plants have been growing in my garden for a number of years, though I’m not entirely certain where they came from! I’ve noticed several wild plots of them in some rural areas nearby, so it’s possible the seeds were carried here by birds.
Euphorbia marginata is one of the later plants to make an appearance in the garden, usually popping up when I’ve given up all hope that they’re going to return. They never seem to come up in the same location from one season to the next. I guess it depends upon which way the wind is blowing when their seeds finally decide to drop! I’ve tried to arrange these photos (these are actually a couple of different plants that I took pictures of last year) in the order of the their growth pattern.
Euphorbia marginata is a succulent plant in the spurge family, of which the Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is also a member.
All parts of Euphorbia marginata are poisonous if ingested. The sap can cause a rash or burns to the skin and eyes comparable to a Latex reaction, as well as blistering of the mouth. Just handling the leaves can cause skin irritation. I’ve never had contact with the sap, and have not experienced any irritation from touching the leaves or flowers, so the plant probably affects different people in different ways.
The foliage of Euphorbia marginata is more eye-catching that its flowers. While the lower leaves of the main stem remain totally green, the leaves at the top of the plant are patterned with white margins and in some cases are almost fully white. The same can be said of the leaves surrounding flowers lower down the main stem. The plants grow to a height of 1½-3 feet and a width of about 12 inches.
In contrast to the vivid quality of the leaves, the flowers are inconspicuous and easy to overlook. The small greenish-white clusters of blossoms seem to get lost in the deep green and white of the surrounding foliage. But if you inspect them closely you’ll find that they’re quite pretty.
Snow On The Mountain blooms from mid-summer through fall. It’s always one of the last flowers standing in my garden.
Seed capsules form as the blooms begin to dry and fall off. They’re a little bigger than a large pin-head and somewhat irregularly round. Each capsule contains three seeds. The capsules remain green for quite a while before slowly browning and falling off.
Euphorbia marginata is very drought tolerant. It will withstand extreme heat with only moderate watering and will grow in complete sun to partial shade.
This plant was first noted by the Lewis and Clark Expedition along the Yellowstone River in Montana. It is a Texas native.
Other common names for Euphorbia marginata are Ghostweed, Kilimanjaro, Snow Top, Summer Icicle, Smoke on the Prairie, Variegated Spurge, Whitemargined Spurge and Mountain Spurge.