|Snow-on-the-mountain, Greenwood Co., Ks.|
This plant is related to the poinsettia and, when seen in profusion from a distance, its variegated leaves and white flowers give the appearance of snow on the mountain.
Beware, snow-on-the-mountain exudes a milky sap that causes skin irritation similar to poison ivy. Cattle avoid snow-on-the-mountain because of its bitter taste.
The plant is a member of the spurge family. The common name "spurge" comes from the Middle English and Old French espurge, meaning"to purge", due to the use of the sap as a purgative. The plant and its medicinal properties was known in Roman times as early as Caesar Augustus. The botanical name Euphorbia derives from Euphorbus, a Greek physician, who used a species of the plant as a laxative.
The plant grows 12-40 inches in height. A single stem may branch into three flowering heads. The variegated bracts next to the flowers serve the function of attracting bees and other pollinators.