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