Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Actual frost on frostweed

with 24 comments

While frostweed (Verbesina virginica) is remarkable for the delicate ice it extrudes from its stalk when the temperature drops to freezing, the plant isn’t immune from having actual frost settle on it. I reconfirmed that on December 12th in Great Hills Park when I went down there for my annual documenting of frostweed’s ice trick. The top picture shows frost on some frostweed flowers that had lingered into mid-December, thanks to unusually mild temperatures. The portrait below shows frost on an already dry and curled frostweed leaf.

☙       ☙       ☙

I’m reading Steven Pinker’s new book Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters. At one point he cites figures from Bobby Duffy’s Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything. You can find out if you’re right or wrong about the following things by saying what percent of the American population you estimate each of these groups represents. (The percents in other countries would be different, of course.)

  • Immigrants.
  • Gays.
  • African-Americans.
  • Jews.

And for this last one, the scope is worldwide:

  • Girls and women aged 15–19 who give birth each year.

To allow people time to see this and come up with estimates, I’ll provide the answers two or three posts from now.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 15, 2021 at 4:28 AM

24 Responses

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  1. Another phenomenon I’ve not seen. Very cool!

    Steve Gingold

    December 15, 2021 at 5:32 AM

  2. Oh, I should know better than to read to the bottom.
    A really offensive song on the radio (in Santa Cruz County of course) exclaims that ‘We are all immigrants.’. Anyway, I suspect that well over 10% of the people of American are immigrants. More of them are here than anywhere else. There are some regions here, such as where I went to high school, where native Americans are rare. Speaking of immigrants, I suspect that homosexual people immigrate to California, so we have a higher percentage of them here. I would guess that about 5% of our population fits that category, with less elsewhere. I suspect that not much more than 10% of the population of America is of African descent. It is difficult to say, because so many have some degree of African ancestry that is not obvious by appearance. I still do not understand how that works. (Like why am I considered to be Italian if I am only half Italian, and have never been closer to Italy than North Fourteenth Street?) I suspect that only about 5% of the population of American is Jewish. I hope it is more. I know they are not Catholic, but they just might be the next best thing. The last question is a doozy. I suspect that the rate of pregnancy of young ladies up to 19 years old is rather high, especially if pregnancies that are terminated are included. I suspect that some of those same young ladies who get pregnant while so young might get pregnant twice. However, I doubt that more than a few get pregnant annually, or five times between 15 and 19. I would say that less than 1% of the female population gets pregnant annually between 15 and 19.
    So, that is:
    1%- or more like ~.05%


    December 15, 2021 at 5:45 AM

    • Thanks for taking the time to think about the questions and craft your estimates, along with your thinking. You’ll find out in two or three days how accurate your estimates were.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 15, 2021 at 9:29 AM

  3. Ice crystals on any flower lend beauty to flowers that can take a little bit of frost, as the hardy frostweed in your photos.

    Peter Klopp

    December 15, 2021 at 8:50 AM

    • It’s not nearly as common here as up north to see frost crystals on plants, so I took advantage of the opportunity—especially when the frost was on flowers, something that normally wouldn’t happen in December in colder places.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 15, 2021 at 9:31 AM

  4. That first shot looks like an old-fashioned jeweled brooch.

    Eliza Waters

    December 15, 2021 at 9:18 AM

  5. Those are beautiful photos, Steve. I enjoyed them very much.

    Lavinia Ross

    December 15, 2021 at 10:35 AM

  6. Love your frosty frostweeds – better than the frosty weeds I’m more likely to find in my own garden, hehe!

    Ann Mackay

    December 15, 2021 at 11:10 AM

    • From the name “frostweed” you can tell that some people here consider the plant a weed. I don’t think they appreciate it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 15, 2021 at 12:27 PM

  7. My estimate for the last group would be 3% or less. The other groups I don’t really know but I guess way less than most people believe. Jewish people would be under 2%. African American, well below 20%. I don’t know how you classify immigrants so I find that difficult to guestimate. I also don’t know exactly what you mean by gays; if it’s a subset of the overall LGBTQIA + population then I would say the percentage is very small and not greatly different from NZ. The gay/lesbian percentage here is about 1.1%.


    December 16, 2021 at 1:21 AM

    • Thanks for your guestimates. I believe the intended sense of “gay” is ‘someone physically attracted to people of the same sex,’ but whether that includes someone physically attracted to people of both sexes isn’t clear. By “immigrant” the people asking the question presumably meant ‘people residing in a country who weren’t born there.’ Whether that includes people residing in a country illegally isn’t clear.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 16, 2021 at 7:05 AM

      • I will await your ‘big reveal’ of the answers. I would have a hard time trying to define immigrant in NZ terms. We have people who come here on ‘immigrant’ visas but there are many more, like me, who were not born in NZ, and somehow end up here, through chance, choice, or family connections. Some of my ancestors were definitely immigrants because they came to NZ as assisted passengers under the immigration schemes of the day.


        December 16, 2021 at 4:45 PM

        • You weren’t born in NZ but as I understand it your parents were. Is that correct?

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 16, 2021 at 6:42 PM

          • That is correct. I am a New Zealander by descent. Also interesting to me is that my immigrant ancestors didn’t have NZ citizenship. Such a thing didn’t exist until 1948. On their death certificates most of my ancestors are recorded as British. https://nzhistory.govt.nz/new-zealand-citizenship-established Although the rules today around residence and citizenship and immigration are much tighter, Australians can still come and live here freely with as many rights as a NZer. They are not born here but are they immigrants? I don’t think so, really. They are more like cousins, or brothers and sisters from another mother. Do you see now why the term ‘immigrant’ confuses me so much?


            December 16, 2021 at 8:19 PM

            • Yes, I see that the term is less clearly defined there because of the British Commonwealth of Nations. In the United States it’s more clear-cut. With exceptions like children born to Americans outside the country who later return here, anyone else who moves here from other countries would be counted as an immigrant.

              Steve Schwartzman

              December 16, 2021 at 8:39 PM

  8. A thought just came to me that made me laugh. We talk about naturalized citizens and naturalized plant species, and we talk about invasive plant species. But if anyone talks about illegal immigration as an invasion, pearl-clutching ensues.

    Frost on frostweed provided some felicitous photos. Those of us on the frost-free coast are hoping for equally fabulous views — eventually.


    December 16, 2021 at 8:13 AM

    • Yes, calling what’s been going on at the southern border since January an invasion provokes apoplexy in certain people. For them, how you refer to something is much more important than the thing itself. That was one of Orwell’s insights in 1984.

      I managed to find a frost-covered Mexican hat as well and will be showing it in a week or so.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 16, 2021 at 8:22 AM

  9. That first photo does indeed look like a brooch … lovely frosty shots Steve


    December 23, 2021 at 11:50 AM

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