by Karen Weiland, Advanced Master Gardener
I am always on the look-out for “new” plants to add to my garden collection. Several years ago a plant in the garden of my “egg lady” caught my eye. Looking at it from the road I thought it had beautiful white flowers. I mentioned those flowers and how pretty they were to Mary, the lady I buy my
eggs from. She invited me out to her very well kept garden to have a closer look. Much to my surprise what I thought was a flower was actually a cluster of white and green leaves. This spring Mary shared her bounty of Snow on the Mountain seedlings with me.
Snow on the Mountain (Euphorbia marginata) is a summer annual that will grow one to three foot tall, branching frequently so that it has a bushy appearance when it is mature. Near the tip of the stems a whorled cluster of white and green leaves or bract, serves as a background for very tiny white flowers. The blooming period begins about mid-summer and lasts into autumn, about two to three months. The plant has both male and female flowers. At the end of the bloom period, the female flower transforms into a seed capsule that eventually will split open and the seed is flung several feet by mechanical ejection. So to make a long story short it reseeds itself.
This plant, a native to the Great Plains, likes full sun, mesic to dry conditions and well drained soil. It has a good tolerance to drought conditions and is deer and rabbit resistant. In its native habitat it grows on dry slopes, disturbed prairies and roadsides.
Plant parts ( mainly because of its white sap), fresh or dried, can be toxic if ingested by humans and cattle. Toxicity varies with different plant parts and its stage of growth. Ingestion causes inflammation or blistering of the mouth, throat and esophagus. Contact with the plant can cause irritation of the eyes, skin and mucous membranes. Sensitivity varies with each individual. Wear gloves when working with this plant.
Don’t confuse this gorgeous plant with another plant, a ground cover, known as Snow on the Mountain (Aegopodium podograria). This ground cover grows to about twelve inches tall and is also known as Goutweed and Bishops Weed. This particular plant will need to be kept under control as it can be a bit invasive.
Snow on the Mountain can be grown by seed or if you’re lucky like I was, someone may share their seedlings with you. Thank you Mary!
As always, Happy Gardening!
More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs. The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co., and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.
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