Overview

Comprehensive Description

Comments

Snow-on-the-Mountain has a distinctive appearance because of the white-margined foliage. It can't be confused with any other plant species.
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Description

This adventive or introduced annual plant is 1-3' tall, branching frequently and often having a bushy appearance. The round stems are initially dull green, but become light brown with age. Young stems have abundant white hairs, while older stems become more glabrous with age. The alternate leaves are up to 3½" long and 1" across. They are ovate or obovate, glabrous, smooth along the margins, and sessile or nearly so. The upper surface of the leaves often has a white margin of varying width; this white margin has a tendency to become broader and more conspicuous as the leaves approach the flowers. The leaves (or leafy bracts) immediately below the flowers are smaller in size and often opposite or whorled, otherwise they are similar to the other leaves. As a plant matures, there is a tendency for the lower leaves to turn yellow and fall off the stems, particularly during dry weather. The upper stems terminate in small clusters of flowers. The structure of these flowers is typical of members in the Spurge family, although their size is larger than average. Both the male and female flowers develop within a cyathium, which is about ¼" long and shaped like a cup. This cyathium is covered with white hairs on the outside and has 5 glandular appendages along its rim at the top. Each petal-like appendage is white and more broad than long. The male flowers are without sepals or petals, consisting of stamens with anthers that are not exerted significantly from the cyathium. Each female flower is without sepals or petals, consisting of a 3-valved pistil with 3 divided styles. The pistil of the female flower is about 1/3" across and is strongly exerted from the cyathium from a short stalk that is either nodding or erect. Like the cyathium, the pistil is covered with white hairs, and its valves are well-rounded. The blooming period occurs from mid-summer to early fall and lasts about 2-3 months. There is no noticeable floral scent. Both the cyathia and male flowers wither away, while each female flower becomes a 3-celled seed capsule. Each of these cells contains a single seed. The seeds are oval in shape, and their surface is reticulate and rather bumpy (tuberculate). They can be flung several feet from the mother plant by mechanical ejection. The root system consists of a stout taproot. This plant spreads by reseeding itself.
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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Herbs, annual, up to 60-90 cm tall. Root fibrous, 3-5 mm thick, with many rootlets. Stem single, many from base, 3-5 mm thick, smooth, usually glabrous, sometimes less pilose. Leaves alternate, sessile or subsessile; leaf blade elliptic, 5-7 × ca. 3 cm, green, base truncate-rounded, margin entire, apex obtuse, with small tip. Primary involucral leaves 2 or 3, green with white margin, elliptic, 3-4 × 1-2 cm, base attenuate, margin entire, apex rounded, primary rays 2 or 3, 1-4 cm, pubescent or subglabrous; secondary involucral leaves elliptic, 1-2 cm × 5-7(-9) mm, attenuate at base, subsessile, apex obtuse. Cyathia single from axils of involucral leaves or numerous clustered, peduncle 3-5 mm, densely pilose; involucre campanulate, 5-6 × ca. 4 mm, pubescent outside, 5 lobes, lobes triangular to rounded, apex acute to emarginate, pubescent inside; glands 4, rounded, appendages white, longer and wider than gland. Male flowers many, exserted from involucre; bracts linear. Female flower: pedicel 3-5 mm, exserted from cup; ovary densely pilose; styles free, persistent; stigma slightly 2-lobed. Capsule subglobose, ca. 5.5 × 5.5 mm, pilose; fruiting pedicel 3-7 mm. Seeds globose-terete, 3.5-4 × 2.8-3 mm, light yellow to gray-brown, with tuberose or inconspicuous enation; caruncle absent. Fl. and fr. Jun-Sep.
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Type Information

Isosyntype for Euphorbia marginata var. uloleuca Engelm. & A. Gray
Catalog Number: US 1814886
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): F. J. Lindheimer
Year Collected: 1844
Locality: Bottomlands of Colorado River., Texas, United States, North America
  • Isosyntype: Engelmann, G. & Gray, A. 1845. Boston J. Nat. Hist. 5: 261.
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Snow-on-the-Mountain naturalizes occasionally in scattered counties across Illinois, particularly in the NE and west-central regions of the state. This plant is adventive from an area that lies west of Illinois, where it is native to the Great Plains. It also escapes from cultivation occasionally. Habitats include dry upland areas of prairies, hill prairies, areas along railroads and roadsides, pastures and fallow fields, dumps and landfills, and waste areas. The seeds often survive earth-moving operations and can germinate wherever the soil is dumped. Snow-on-the-Mountain is often grown in gardens because of its attractive foliage. In the Great Plains states, this species is regarded as a pest because it has a tendency to spread in pastures. In Illinois, Snow-on-the-Mountain appears to be less aggressive and persistent, more often occurring in waste ground and other highly disturbed areas.
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Habitat & Distribution

Escaped and naturalized. Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hainan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Ningxia, Shandong, Sichuan, Taiwan, Yunnan, Zhejiang; also cultivated in N China [native to North America; naturalized in the Old World].
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Associations

Faunal Associations

The flowers attract small to medium-sized bees, including Augochlorella striata (Green Metallic Bee sp.), Nomia nortoni (Norton's Alkali Bee), and Melissodes comptoides (Miner Bee sp.). It is also possible that various flies and wasps are attracted to flowers. The seeds are eaten by Mourning Doves. The foliage contains a toxic and irritating white latex that deters mammalian herbivores. More information is available about the floral-faunal relationships for this species, but it is applicable to the Great Plains and Western states, rather than the Midwest.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Euphorbia marginata

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full sun and mesic to dry conditions. This plant also adapts to slightly moist soil (if flooding doesn't occur) and isn't particular about the type of soil. It has few problems with pests and disease, and is quite drought resistant.
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Wikipedia

Euphorbia marginata

Euphorbia marginata, snow-on-the-mountain, smoke-on-the-prairie, variegated spurge, whitemargined spurge, is a small shrub in the Euphorbiaceae or spurge family native to parts of temperate North America.[1] It is found from Eastern Canada to California. [1]

The type specimen was collected in Rosebud County, Montana from the area of the Yellowstone River by William Clark during the Lewis and Clark Expedition.[2][3]

Description[edit source | edit]

Euphorbia marginata plant has grey-green leaves along branches and smaller leaves in terminal whorls with edges trimmed with wide white bands, creating, together with the white flowers, the appearance that gives the plant its common names.

References[edit source | edit]

  1. ^ a b USDA, NRCS, USDA The PLANTS database, National Plant Data Center, retrieved 2012-09-29 
  2. ^ International Plant Names Index (2008), The International Plant Names Index, retrieved 2008-12-30 
  3. ^ Lewis, Meriwether; William Clark, Moulton, Gary E., ed., The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Volume 12: Herbarium of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, University of Nebraska Press, p. 359, ISBN 978-0-8032-2931-0 
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Notes

Comments

Euphorbia marginata is sometimes grown for the cut flower trade.
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