Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox

Friday, December 11, 2009

Have You Seen The Frost Flowers?

Verbesina virginica (White Crownbeard) is a queen among the rough and tumble flowering natives in my garden~This tall asteraceae family member is a plant that most of us wouldn't give a second look....But, don't get that weed whacker out too fast!

On those first cold and frosty mornings you might be able to see Verbesina virginica (more info here) transformed into Frostweed. A wonderful natural process that happens with just a few plants and Verbesinas are one of them~ But, it can only happen if you have been a very good little gardener! I was just checking to see if you were paying close attention!

Here's what really happens! Imagine a beautiful late fall day. It's warm, the sun is shining....just like most days this past November... The verbisina's roots draw water up into the stem. Late that night, temperatures drop well below freezing and the stems freeze, splitting open, emitting the plant juices, which immediately freeze into ribbons of ice that curl around the stem and the base of the plant!

Isn't it lovely! Isn't nature grand!

Everyday there is something of the marvelous to behold.
Now aren't you glad we didn't mow this plant down after one look at those flowers!
Frost flowers will continue to form as long as the temperatures are cold, the plant juices are flowing and the sun cannot melt them away. Yesterday was warm and last night the temperature dropped 20 degrees. Today never really warmed up, although, the sun was shining brightly enough to melt the flowers. But, in the shadowed wildflower garden, it was cold enough to keep the frostweed blooming.


Just in case you still don't want this rough and tumble flower in your garden~~

Verbisina with its friend the Pokeweed

White Crownbeard/Verbesina/Frostweed has been selected for monitoring by Monarch Watch because it's an important nectar plant for monarch butterflies.

If you don't like the white it does come in yellow!

v alternifolia or Yellow Frostweed
Gail

There are two ways to live your life - one is as though nothing is a miracle, the other is as though everything is a miracle. Albert Einstein


Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone."

45 comments:

  1. Nature is very beautiful, even when it is cold out!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is simply amazing, Gail! I had no idea such a plant or frost flowers existed! You are just a font of information. Can I have some seeds? How tall does it get? Conditions it likes, etc? Quite cold here as well, branches all over the yard that need picking up after the tremendous winds, or are they still blowing? Hope you are well. :-)
    Frances

    ReplyDelete
  3. Gail girl : )
    I had no idea of that quote .. or .. I forgot it because it does seem to spark something .. or was that the coffee kicking in ? jeez !
    I used to run out and get pictures of frosted plants and they were gorgeous .. now we go straight into snow it seems without so much frost.
    That bit about hearing/reading the quote before, is going to bother me all day .. especially when I see the whole BILL for the brake job .. I think the paramedics should be on stand by ? haha

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am of the group that thinks everything is a miracle. Amazing plant Gail. I have never seen such a "frost flower". I will be on the look out for it. We have plenty of poke weed around here. I wonder where I find this plant?? This is one of natures miracles I would like to see up close and personal.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've never seen a plant do that, it's really fascinating. Nature is wonderful, with little treats for those who take the time to find them. Stay warm!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Frances, I'll do a bigger Wildflower story on it...but it is about 6 foot tall when it's in a good aspect....It's a biennial and of course you can have seeds~~if they haven't all disappeared from the seedheads.

    gail

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've seen that happen to plants on the road sides, very neat! I didn't know that Monarchs liked pokeweed flowers, I guess that's why they come here...plenty of it around!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Amazing frost flowers! I have never witnessed this phenomena!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Amazing! Like ice art! You seem to have colder weather than we, here, it's all rain and a cold wind, but no frost at all.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hey Dave, I am sorry if I wasn't clearer! Verbesinas are the monarch nectaring plant. It just looks good with Pokeweed! Hope you're keeping warm.

    gail

    ReplyDelete
  11. Oh I love that! You said there were a few other plants that do that and I'm trying to remember one. I remember learning about one that was common in the hill country of Texas. But that was eons ago when I took a native plants course in college. I do remember thinking how cool nature could be! You obviously have one of the more interesting yards around. Someday I'll have to get to your area and check it out.

    ReplyDelete
  12. How amazing. I love it. The plant looks familiar but I don't believe it grows on my farm. I will surely look into this and see if it is hardy here. I do have a lot of pokeweed. Didn't realize it was a monarch favorite.
    Marnie

    ReplyDelete
  13. Gail, You've done it again: made me fall in love with a flower I can't grow... or, maybe... nope, just can't see how that could work. Thanks for sharing the miracle with us. Love the quote, Mr. Einstein.

    ReplyDelete
  14. These are beautiful, Gail! And how fascinating that the ice flowers are caused by the plant juices. One of the many reasons I love to come here is that you always manage to find a little miracle like this in the garden that most of us would overlook. Einstein would have approved.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Helen, I am sorry...But, try it anyway! gail

    ReplyDelete
  16. That is pretty amazing. And I have never heard or seen this before. That is just one of the reasons I love blogging.

    Jen

    ReplyDelete
  17. What an astounding post. I don't think it would work here, but what enchantment. thank you.
    Don't forget my Giveaway. Leave a comment by midnight and Right Rose Right Place by Peter Schneider and 2 dozen CowPots! Drawing tomorrow, saturday, morning.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Wow, Gail!!! Your "frost flowers" for some reason remind me of icy praying mantis egg cases. Spectacular! And pokeweed is very high on my list of most underappreciated ornamentals, so thanks for including it. We always keep a spot for it here. Incidentally, I totally appreciate your surgery postponement. I too have put off a much-needed doctor's appointment until after the holidays. Let's get our priorities in order, and joyous times with those we love are surely priority #1!

    ReplyDelete
  19. OFB, I tried to put it off for as long as I could...but Mr I informed me that if I didn't have surgery before the end of the year...we would have to pay the high deductible. So it's rescheduled for Dec 30...barring an unforeseen cold;) Blogging is the best! I've learned so very much and met the best folks! gail

    ReplyDelete
  20. Love the quote Gail. I've never seen frost flowers either. But then again, I don't do much poking around outdoors during the winter months. I definitely under appreciate this season. Maybe something to work on?

    ReplyDelete
  21. How interesting and beautiful Gail! This is just one of the reasons I love blogging! I never knew this... Great photography! Frost flowers are hard to capture but you have done so superbly. Carol

    ReplyDelete
  22. i definitely prefer the latter of einstein's quote...life is miraculous filled with wonder every day.
    that icey beauty is a testiment to it.
    happy december.

    ReplyDelete
  23. This is spectacular!! Not getting out of the 40's today...everything in life is a miracle...

    ReplyDelete
  24. That is fascinating! It's amazing what nature can do!

    ReplyDelete
  25. That is beautiful! I don't think I've heard of this plant. I should check to see if it grows in Nebraska. I just got registered as a monarch waystation.

    Yes, it was about 12 degrees F when I took the header photo, and that's what it is right now. Brr!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Wow! What an interesting process the frost flower goes through. Never seen anything like it before.
    Nature is so wonderful and ever-changing.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Gail, I have never heard of this plant or what it so miraculously accomplishes. I'm amazed. ... Ouch on the thumbs. I hope the surgery goes well.

    ReplyDelete
  28. What a cool phenomenon- thanks for showing it to us! Sorry to hear about your thumbs - hope you're not in too much pain.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Wow! That's amazing. Glad you didn't mow it! It looks gorgeous in yellow and man, do those berries look cute!
    How's your thumb now?

    ReplyDelete
  30. Wow! That's amazing. Glad you didn't mow it! It looks gorgeous in yellow and man, do those berries look cute!
    How's your thumb now?

    ReplyDelete
  31. Wow--not sure I've seen the white crownbeard but will be looking for it. I let pokeweed grow for "greens" in spring and birds like the berries (but I think are poisonous for humans).

    The Yellow (Actinomeris alternifolia) crown beard we call wingstem is also an important nectar source for honey bees in September. Any pasture will have them. I have seen monarchs on them too.

    Love your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Appalachian Lady, So glad you stopped by~~I loved your blog. Isn't nature grand! gail

    ReplyDelete
  33. No, I haven't seen a plant do that before. It's truly beautiful! You are so good at capturing the little miracles to share with us. Thank you :)
    I've so much enjoyed your photos and the few posts I've had time to read tonight. Love your birdy pics! The tufted titmouse is a hard one to catch. You got a great pic!
    Love the chickadees too.!
    It's been a wintery week everywhere across the country it seems. Bitterly cold, snowy and windy here. A little better today though, even had sunshine! That always cheers things up :)

    ReplyDelete
  34. Great information Gail. Yes, nature and her creator are both amazing to behold. Thanks for showing us these and explaining why we should have this plant and others like it in our garden.~~Dee

    ReplyDelete
  35. Truly spectacular Gail. Each photograph so different.......a truly beautiful post.....

    ReplyDelete
  36. Well they are so very delicate and made even more wonderful cause they disappear so quickly. I've never seen such a thing. It's been cold and blustery here. I've dedicated the whole evening to blog reading and yours was my first stop!

    I needed brain rejuvenation after eating a whole plate of onion rings that clogged my arteries.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hi Gail, I'm glad I found your blog! I have never seen a frost flower- very interesting. I like to encourage native plants, as well, though I'm not a purist. Mainly I want something that will grow well, be beautiful (that doesn't necessarily mean flowers), and provide nourishment and shelter for wildlife. I look forward to seeing more of your garden, so I am going to add your blog to my faves. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  38. deb, I really enjoyed visiting your blog~~Your garden is beautiful. Your Marriage Tree and its story are marveloius~~How fortunate it survived the tornado. gail

    ReplyDelete
  39. That ice thing *is* cool and nature *is* grand! I love that flower and its berries... I can't tell if it's hardy in my zone because I can never tell if they are using old or new zones... but I'm going to see if I can find it around here. By the way, did you get my snail mail card? I'm not sure I got your address right...

    ReplyDelete
  40. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Thanks for the link Gail! I posted a link to it on my facebook page as well.

    Dan Satterfield
    WHNT TV Huntville

    ReplyDelete
  42. Great post! For all who are interested in frost flowers, please feel free to discuss at the Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/frostflower

    ReplyDelete

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails