Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Almost black and white

with 16 comments

Call it chiaroscuro, this portrait of frostweed flowers (Verbesina virginica) growing wild in my neighborhood on October 4th. Hard to believe this species is a genus-mate of the cowpen daisy you saw here last month.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 23, 2018 at 6:12 AM

16 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. You are lucky that plants are still blooming in your area. Our winter season is rapidly closing in and frost has taken most of what had been holding on.

    Pairodox Farm

    October 23, 2018 at 6:36 AM

    • I chose to move this far south to get away from the cold I grew up with in New York. Two decades later, after I got interested in native plants, I counted it a bonus that we regularly have at least some wildflowers through November. Last week in Austin we had several days when the high was in the mid-40s, setting a record low for the high temperature on those days.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 23, 2018 at 7:17 AM

  2. Lucky you, to have some in your neighborhood. It no doubt helps to get those wonderful ‘frost flower’ photos when the first freezes come. In the meantime, this is a wonderful portrait of the flowers themselves. Those black anther tubes are a nice detail, and the black background helps to highlight them.


    October 23, 2018 at 9:17 AM

    • Frostweed grows in lots of places in my hilly northwestern part of Austin. The flowers I photographed for this post were along a back path I follow probably only once a year on average. Closer to home and more easily accessible are a line of frostweed plants in Great Hills Park. Those are the plants I regularly go to for frostweed ice when freezes come, which could be as soon as a month from now.

      Those black anther tubes fit right in with the chiaroscuro of the portrait.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 23, 2018 at 10:06 AM

  3. Charming chiaroscuro!


    October 23, 2018 at 9:22 AM

  4. Beautiful composition, Steve! I’ve never seen one of these here, yet, but will keep an eye out for them.

    Lavinia Ross

    October 23, 2018 at 10:55 AM

    • Alas, Lavinia, your eyes are doomed to disappointment, at least beyond seeing a portrait, because this species grows only in the southeastern quadrant of the 48 states, the opposite part from where you are. In any case, I appreciate your appreciation of the composition.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 23, 2018 at 11:05 AM

      • I know of a Scottish blogger who has seen these frost formations over there. So, I went looking, and found there are apparently other species that go by the same common name or have the potential to produce frost ribbons. This site lists a few different species.

        Lavinia Ross

        October 28, 2018 at 9:20 AM

        • Just to be clear, the photo in this post shows frostweed flowers, which are coincidentally white. You can see instances of the ice phenomenon in this species at


          The article that you linked to mentions Bob Harms, whose very informative web article on crystallofolia is linked there. I knew Bob Harms, who unfortunately died a few years ago. From his article I was also introduced to the website of James R. Carter, likewise linked to in your link.

          From what I can tell, botanists have yet to understand why only a few species undergo the ice phenomenon natively, and what the exact mechanism is.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 28, 2018 at 9:47 AM

          • I remember seeing some of those posts. Your frost formation photos are beautiful Steve! Tom’s photos of what they call frost weed ice formations over in Scotland look very similar. I remember him saying the conditions have to be just right to see it.

            Lavinia Ross

            October 29, 2018 at 9:41 AM

            • Thanks, Lavinia. I’ve always enjoyed the abstractions that are possible when photographing frostweed ice, even if I don’t enjoy the cold I have to endure while taking those pictures.

              The conditions in Austin seem to be right because at least some frostweed plants produce ice the first time we get a freeze, and others (plus sometimes the first ones again) produce ice when we have subsequent freezes.

              Steve Schwartzman

              October 29, 2018 at 2:57 PM

  5. It looks like edelweiss of the prairie.


    October 24, 2018 at 11:36 PM

    • I never knew what edelweiss flowers look like, nor that they’re in the sunflower family, till your comment prompted me to search. “Edelweiss of the prairie” is an excellent description, although I’ll add that frostweed grows across much of the southeastern quadrant of the country, not just on prairies.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 25, 2018 at 7:04 AM

  6. Beautiful Steve .. 🙂


    October 30, 2018 at 12:00 AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: