Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Ice is white, and so are frostweed flowers

with 8 comments

Frostweed Flower 0806

While we’re on the subject of frostweed, Verbesina virginica, let me make up for not showing you any flowers of that species this past fall. If you didn’t know the real reason that frostweed is called frostweed you might think it’s because of these white flowers. This tall plant (up to 3m, or 10 ft.) is in the sunflower family, so the larger white areas are ray flowers and the smaller ones of a creamier white are disk flowers.

Today’s picture is from Rain Creek Parkway in my northwest Austin neighborhood on December 6th. Given how late in the year that was, these flowers were beginning to dry out and turn brown, so I had to scrounge a bit for a presentable bunch. Even at that late date, however, some frostweed buds were still emerging. Here’s a closeup of some:

Frostweed Buds 0845A

If you’d like a reminder of how nice frostweed flowers can look in their prime, and how they appeal to insects, check out this post from 2014.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 13, 2016 at 4:57 AM

8 Responses

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  1. Very pretty captures.


    January 13, 2016 at 6:16 AM

  2. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am. Several years ago, when I knew even less than I do today about how to figure these things out, I went looking for the frostweed flower, and somehow ended up with images of rosemary frostweed: Helianthemum rosmarinifolium. The photos I found were taken in College Station, and I saw that the flower’s a native, so, for several years I’ve “known” that frostweed flowers are yellow, and used that bit of information to look for the plants.

    Imagine my surprise when I looked at these flowers, and the one you linked, and realized I have a half-dozen photos of the same plant — from the nature center right down the road from me. One even has a tiny, iridescent blue fly included. In fact, it was the fly that first attracted my attention. We’ve not had a freeze yet, and I remember the general area where I found the flowers, so you can bet I’ll be making tracks over there to fix their location. Perhaps I’ll get to see frostweed ice after all — if the plants didn’t suffer removal by that crew that was clearing things off.


    January 13, 2016 at 7:25 AM

    • Now that’s the kind of surprise of recognition we’re all happy to get, and that we crave more of. I’m surprised to see that Helianthemum isn’t even in the same botanical family as Helianthus (which joins Verbesina in the sunflower family, Asteraceae). Couldn’t botanists have chosen a less-confusing name than Helianthemum?

      I do hope the plants you photographed survived the clearing crew and that you can still recognize them now that they’d be dried out and lacking in flowers. Good luck!

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 13, 2016 at 8:50 AM

  3. Wonderful photos, I am always fascinated by the adaptations of the different species of both plants and animals so I really appreciated your post.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    January 13, 2016 at 8:50 AM

    • I’m glad to hear you like these photos, Charlie. As for adaptation, we humans have gotten pretty good at that too, don’t you think? Why, we’ve even adapted to blogging.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 13, 2016 at 8:58 AM

  4. As you mentioned, these are very different from the yellow frostweed I find here. Hopefully I can photograph them in winter to verify their deserving of the name.

    Steve Gingold

    January 14, 2016 at 4:19 AM

    • It goes to show once again that a common name can be ambiguous. I do hope you’ll achieve your icy goal.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 14, 2016 at 8:27 AM

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