Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Frostweed flowers make an early appearance

with 20 comments

Click for greater clarity.

Since the end of last year I’ve pointed out native plants that have been flowering well before or after their “normal” time. Here’s yet another: it’s frostweed, Verbesina virginica, whose flowers don’t usually appear till September. I found these blossoms on June 19 across the street from a corner of Great Hills Park in northwestern Austin.

If you take a good look at the picture above, you may notice that a tiny dark fly was getting sustenance from these white flowers. If you don’t know or recall how frostweed got its name, especially if you’re in a place where the summer heat feels oppressive, you’re welcome to take a cooling look back at the posts of November 29 and December 9.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 10, 2012 at 6:04 AM

20 Responses

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  1. Lovely photo. I enjoyed this game early this morning…I found him!


    July 10, 2012 at 6:08 AM

    • it took me a moment to remember what the game was: I’d only noticed the little fly last night myself.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 10, 2012 at 7:45 AM

  2. I don’t mind if this plant flowers early as long as the frost doesn’t make an early appearance this year!! 🙂


    July 10, 2012 at 6:12 AM

    • After this year’s record-breaking heat (and we’re still only in early July) I suspect many people would welcome some early cooling, but I can understand why Canadians might not feel that way.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 10, 2012 at 7:49 AM

      • LOL – I don’t live in an igloo you know :). It has been really hot here lately too, not quite as high temperatures as you are having, but still very hot and humid. I love the heat, but the humidity I could do without. Anything below 80F is too cold for me LOL, so I never look forward to Fall or Winter.


        July 10, 2012 at 8:50 PM

      • What, no igloo?
        I’m with you when it comes to temperature: that’s why I moved to Texas.

        Steve Schwartzman

        July 10, 2012 at 10:07 PM

    • Good choice 🙂


      July 11, 2012 at 5:49 AM

  3. A lovely capture of the flowers, which I never see, and a good reminder that I’ll need to get a front-row seat for the show a little earlier this year!


    July 10, 2012 at 7:09 AM

    • Perhaps this will be the year when you get to see the flowers of frostweed, which the USDA map shows in a a bunch of counties along the Texas coast. In spite of the few precocious plants I found last month, the main blossoming season for this species is still ahead. I’ll bet if you talked to people at the Houston chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas you could find some likely locations near you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 10, 2012 at 7:59 AM

  4. Such a pretty little flowering plant.. I don’t know what “normal” is anymore.. in plants and our weather!

    Just A Smidgen

    July 10, 2012 at 8:10 AM

    • Before you posted your comment I was thinking that I should’ve included some mention of size: this closeup of flowers represents only a few inches, but frostweed plants can grow to be 10 ft. (3 m) tall. A mighty “weed” indeed. As for “normal,” who knows?

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 10, 2012 at 8:18 AM

  5. I took me a moment to find him. Are the outer faux petals really only borne in twos? ~ Lynda


    July 10, 2012 at 8:21 AM

    • I didn’t notice the tiny fly for some time, either.

      I can see why this picture might lead you to think the white ray flowers come in pairs, but there can be more than two per head. There’s an example of that in a post from last fall.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 10, 2012 at 9:56 AM

  6. We’re having the same extremely early season bloom here as well, Steve – a bit unsettling.


    July 10, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    • When I was in the Northeast last week and the week before, temperatures were as hot as, or occasionally even hotter than, those in Texas. No wonder plants are getting confused.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 10, 2012 at 8:05 PM

  7. Thank you for visiting my Nature Notes and yes my blog has been about the nature I have seen in my yard moving from a fear of many things to appreciating many more things..I am not a good photographer but I do love seeing photos of those who are and that you love native plants is so nice to see. Three years ago we started to make our yard into a wildlife habitat and certified our milkweed patch as a monarch Waystation. Right now I am trying to figure how which species of two dragonflies that I saw in battle over the pond at dusk, started by a green heron coming in to fish..that is what occupies my mind. I hope there are some nectar plants in bloom for the monarch migration your way as ours are blooming too early here in New York..Michelle…http://ramblingwoods.com/

    Rambling Woods

    July 11, 2012 at 12:46 AM

    • I once lived for half a year in the Finger Lakes. I appreciated the landscapes I saw there (and photographed some of them), but I wish I’d paid attention to the native species the way I’ve come to do in Texas. Live and learn.

      As for milkweed, for some time I’ve been aware of the principal species in my area, but two weeks ago I finally got to observe the Asclepias syriaca that’s so common in the Northeast.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 11, 2012 at 4:03 PM

  8. Very pretty and I just read your other posts about this plant. How unusual!


    July 12, 2012 at 12:29 PM

  9. […] Verbesina virginica looks like when it’s fresh, you may want to take a quick look back at a picture from this summer. As for the origin of the vernacular name frostweed, let me repeat what I wrote at the end of […]

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