Monday, January 4, 2010

Frosty Blossoms

A couple of years ago, I bought a frostweed seedling at the annual butterfly plant sale at the Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park in Dallas. Frostweed, Verbesina virginica, is a tall, coarse, perennial that grows in sun to mostly shady conditions. In late summer and through the fall, small clusters of white flowers form at the end of the long stalks. The flowers are very attractive to butterflies, bees, wasps, and other pollinators.

The photo above shows several queen butterflies enjoying frostweed nectar at the end of September of this year.
After the flowers fade and temperatures drop, you discover how the plant got its name.


Freezing temperatures cause frozen sap to burst through the stems in interesting and delicate shapes.

The frozen sap is often referred to as frost flowers.


Here at the Prairie Garden, you have to get up early to see the frost flowers. The temperature generally does not stay below freezing beyond the early morning hours. Warmer temperatures and sunshine melt the ephemeral frost flowers quickly.

2 comments:

  1. I'm glad you found a way to use frostweed in the landscape. I've become afraid of it. Our woods here are inundated with frostweed. Uncontrolled, it crowds out most other woodland species. I spend a chunk of time every spring pulling up sprouts but we still have a few come fall. I'm inclined toward the philosophy that there's a place for everything, just wish I knew how to enjoy this one without being taken over.

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  2. After the first couple of years of pulling up seedlings in the spring, I started cutting off the seed heads as they start to dry in the fall. I only have two large plants, so it is not much of a chore and it reduces the number of sprouts in the spring. I noticed a few days ago that birds have been eating the seeds I tossed in an open brush pile.

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