Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Frost, but not from frostweed

with 23 comments


The weather forecast for the early morning of November 20th in Austin predicted a temperature of around 37°, which has occasionally been cold enough to cause frostweed to do its ice trick. Living up to the nature photographer’s creed, I dressed warmly that Sunday morning, put on my rubber boots, and wended my way the half-mile downhill to check out the stand of frostweed I rely on in Great Hills Park. No luck.

While I didn’t find frostweed ice, I did find some frost, most noticeably on a colony of straggler daisies, Calyptocarpus vialis. Straggling, which is to say being low and little, works to the advantage of this species: none of the other plants that might have made for even better frost subjects survived the frequent and relentless onslaught that the mowers carried on at the Floral Park entrance to Great Hills Park all through 2016.

(I’ll occasionally interrupt pictures from the Southwest trip with a current post about central Texas.)

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 22, 2016 at 4:52 AM

23 Responses

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  1. I have to stop and think when I see “straggler daisy,” since I first knew this one as “lawnflower.” No matter the name, it’s lovely coated with that frost. Around here, it seems to be nearly a year-round bloomer if the conditions are right.

    You’re right about small and low as mower defenses, too. Where I see it, it manages to keep blooming and spreading even in the face of obsessive mowing: right along with the tiny asters that I assumed to be natural ground huggers. Eventually, I saw them in their full, feet-high glory, and realized they weren’t staying low to the ground by preference.


    November 22, 2016 at 6:20 AM

    • I had the same surprise with low~high asters. In the lawn of our previous house, on the east side of Austin, I learned to recognize flowers of the aster known as hierba del marrano. Later, out in nature, I discovered plants of that species that had grown several feet tall.

      Lawnflower is an apt name for straggler daisy (also called horseherb), which we had in our former lawn as well and which never does get more than a few inches off the ground even if never mowed. Native plant gardeners recommend it as an excellent ground cover. As you noted, it produces its small yellow flower heads for most of the year. I suspect the flower heads survive frost but I haven’t checked to find out.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 22, 2016 at 8:17 AM

  2. I think you just dipped them in eggwhite and sugar ! 😀


    November 22, 2016 at 8:37 AM

  3. Brrr! We always joke at our house that it might be time to head to Texas when it gets this cold, but it looks like it is just as cold there! Probably didn’t last, though. We’re heading back to 50 degrees later this week.

    It DOES look like it was dipped in sugar 🙂


    November 22, 2016 at 8:40 AM

    • Right you are: the highs in the days leading up to that cold front were in the 70s and 80s, and I see in the forecast for the next seven days that the lowest of the overnight lows is predicted to be 47°. There are times when our two areas have similar temperatures but there’s no way I’d want to endure a Chicago-area winter.

      Hmmm: two visions of sugar. Maybe you’re both thinking of holiday baking.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 22, 2016 at 9:00 AM

      • Not me, I’ve sworn off sugar. mostly.

        I keep hoping all this global warming that is happening will result in mild winters here 🙂


        November 22, 2016 at 9:01 AM

        • You can extrapolate the warming to the point where Illinois becomes the sugar cane capital of America and the Des Plaines River turns into a bayou.

          We use mostly stevia as a sweetener. Stevia for mevia, as someone with my name is entitled to think.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 22, 2016 at 9:13 AM

          • 🙂 Now I’ve had my morning chuckle, I can go make my coffee and get busy. Actually I wish I had put some stevia in my breakfast bars. I tried sweetening it with apple sauce and it just isn’t very good. Perhaps I’ll just stroll over to the Des Plaines bayou and pick myself some sugar.


            November 23, 2016 at 8:12 AM

            • Happy morning chuckle. Sounds like some stuvia for youvia would have made for better breakfast bars. Eve has experimented in her baking by replacing half or more of the sugar in a recipe with stevia and it has turned out pretty well.

              Steve Schwartzman

              November 23, 2016 at 8:27 AM

              • I’ll try that. I have cut back on sugar but I find I’m really struggling with my weight which isn’t making my joints happy. More pain, less activity, more weight. sigh.
                On an unrelated note, I see that California is threatening to leave the Union. What do you think of that?


                November 23, 2016 at 9:42 AM

                • It’s not going to happen. I don’t foresee a Civil War II.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  November 23, 2016 at 10:17 AM

                • They think they could stand alone but they aren’t taking into account all the foreign diplomacy they’d have to do.
                  Happy Thanksgiving to you and Eve! 🙂


                  November 24, 2016 at 8:47 AM

                • Same to you. It’s our traditional go-to-a-gathering-and-eat-yourself-silly sort of a day.

                  Most Californians wouldn’t want to stop being citizens of the United States.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  November 24, 2016 at 10:08 AM

                • My son and I made lasagna from a recipe he found. I’ve never been that big a fan of lasagna, but this was amazing. Cooking with my son~now that is a tradition I could embrace 🙂 Every other Thanksgiving has been forgettable compared to that.


                  November 26, 2016 at 9:23 AM

                • Happy new tradition to you. May it always be as tasty.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  November 26, 2016 at 9:34 AM

                • Thank you 🙂


                  November 27, 2016 at 9:15 AM

  4. Candied Daisy .. Fab frost


    November 25, 2016 at 12:52 PM

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