17 September 2013

Snow on the Mountain, native Euphorbia marginata

Snow-On-The-Mountain, Euphorbia marginata is an American annual that is native across most of the U.S and Canada. The variegated leaves and attraction for pollinators make it a must have in our native gardens.
The plants make a conspicuous show, rising to 3-4 feet tall in our flower beds by this time of year.  Our first plants came in with a load of composted soil we purchased from a local supplier. When they first started emerging, I paged through page after page in the seedling books and concluded that it was okra - pink stems, etc. As with all Euphorbias the sap in the stems can cause skin rash or burn so be careful until you know whether or not you are sensitive. North Carolina State University reminds us that it is not to be eaten since it is poisonous. At Robb's Plants, they call it Summer Icicle - lovely name. And, at Sunny Gardens, they say one of its names is Ghost Plant. The plants are fairly nondescript until early fall when the inflorescences/bracts appear and the leaf colors brighten. You can use Snow-On-The-Mountain as a long lasting cut flower by cutting the end and searing it or dipped it in boiling water.  They are said to prefer full sun and ours come up at the sunny edges of a couple of our part-shade flower beds. The seeds are easy to start and keep going in poor soil with little water and no fertilizer. If you love Euphorbias check out the International Euphorbia Society at www.euphorbia-international.org and PBI - The Euphorbia Planetary Biodiversity Inventory project at
http://www.euphorbiaceae.org/


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