Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Snow-on-the-Mountain

There are a couple different plants that bear the beautiful nickname Snow-on-the-Mountain.  One is the aggressive and often invasive Aegopodium podagraria.  (You might know it by less grand nicknames, such as Goutweed and Bishop's Weed.)  The other is the lovely native annual Euphorbia marginata.

Snow-on-the-Mountain
Euphorbia marginata
This native Snow-on-the-Mountain is very deserving of such a name.  It has little white flowers that bloom in summer and into fall, but what attracts the most attention are its striking, white-as-snow edged leaves.


Snow-on-the-Mountain, is native to much of the continental U.S., and was one of the plants collected by Lewis and Clark on their expedition across North America.  (A specimen believed to be collected by William Clark in 1806 can be found in the Lewis & Clark Herbarium at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.)


This drought-tolerant annual can be grown in sun or partial shade, but it popped up this summer in a fairly shady part of my garden and is doing quite well.  It grows to a height of 2 or 3 feet and is not very picky about soil, as long as it is not too wet.  It has few problems with pests or disease.


I've read that Snow-on-the-Mountain will attract butterflies and smaller bees, but mine mainly seems to attract flies and wasps as its pollinators.  (Aren't I lucky?)


Euphorbia marginata is supposed to be long-lasting as a cut flower if its ends are seared - but it is a cut-at-your-own-risk type of plant.  Unfortunately the stems contain milky sap that can cause a skin reaction for some people (especially those allergic to Latex), so cut stems must be handled with gloves.  Some early cattlemen even used the sap to brand cattle in place of a hot iron. (Yikes!)


Some Native Americans used this plant medicinally.  The Lakotas made a tea out of it to stimulate milk production in new mothers and crushed its leaves to use as a liniment for swelling.  The Kiowa used it as chewing gum, since it forms a type of latex.  It is now considered mildly toxic when eaten, as it is rather purgative.  Deer and other animals generally tend to leave this plant alone.


There are several cultivars of Snow-on-the-Mountain available. It is best to sow the seeds directly where you want the plants or to plant deep plugs, as it doesn't like to be transplanted.  They will then self-seed for the next year.

seed pod forming on Snow-on-the-Mountain
I likely have a bird to thank for my new plant, as it must have popped up from an errant seed.  It grew in the back of my border, behind a tree.  I hope next year I will find a few new plants near the front of the border, where everyone can actually see it!


Happy Gardening!


Today is Wildflower Wednesday!  You can see native wildflowers blooming in other bloggers' gardens at the site Clay and Limestone.

21 comments:

  1. I've never grown Euphorbia marginata, Indie. It has such pretty leaves. I have goutweed in a place where I can keep it under control without a problem. Would much prefer the native plant, though. P. x

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    1. That's good at least, that your goutweed is placed well so it doesn't run rampant! It can be quite pretty, too, just a little too aggressive for a lot of places!

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  2. I have never grown this either but what a stunner Indie to try in some drier spots in my garden...love the variegation!!!

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    1. It would really stand out in a partially shady spot. Those leaves almost glow, they are so white! It's supposed to be really drought tolerant, which is awesome.

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  3. I didn't realize it was shade-tolerant. I must add some. It really is a lovely plant. :)

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    1. It would really light up a partially shady spot with the white leaves. I'm hoping I get more plants next year!

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  4. It's fun when we get volunteers. This is a nice looking one! I don't think I knew it was a native plant.

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    1. With all the invasive weeds in my yard, it's so nice to stumble upon a pretty one that native!

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  5. The foliage of this plant is so striking! I've seen various other plants called Snow-on-the-Mountain, but none of them were as attractive as this one. If it can tolerate shade, I might have just the spot for it!

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    1. It is such a striking plant! And it's in a good bit of shade and still quite happy for me.

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  6. Hi Indie! What an attractive plant! I live in the Northwest and don't have it... Shame on me! I do have Bishop's weed, although. I'd gladly replace it with Euphorbia m.
    Thank you! The pictures are very good and the information is very useful!

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    1. Bishop's weed can be quite attractive, too, just a little aggressive sometimes! Good luck getting it out, if you ever try to replace it!

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  7. I love Euphorbia but I never saw this one before. The color is beautiful. It reminds me of a summer dress I had when I was a little girl.

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    1. Aw, that sounds like quite the pretty summer dress!

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  8. I have seen this beautiful plant for sale but had no idea it was native or that it would easily reseed or that it could take some shade. Now it is definitely something I want to plant in my woodland garden. Thanks for the info!

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    1. It would be beautiful in some dappled sunlight! I've never seen it for sale before at the local nurseries, but I'm enjoying it in my garden.

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  9. I agree, the color of the foliage and flowers are beautiful. They are a bit vigorous in the garden though, aren't they?

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    1. They do self-seed readily. Reading online, some people think they self-seed too aggressively for their space, while others think that they don't. It probably depends on the garden. At least unwanted seedlings seem easy to spot and pull. I'll give an update in a year or two as to how vigorous it is in my garden :)

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  10. What an interesting plant! It looks beautiful in the garden !
    Great pictures !

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