These are the "flowers" delivered to my part of the Ozarks this morning, to honor our military veterans!! Even the description on one of the websites I used to research the plant ( www.biosurvey.ou.edu ) brought the sight of elderly veterans to mind: It said, "Although the plant has gone to seed and looks dead, at the first hard freeze of the season, it bursts forth to produce something remarkable!" Likewise, you can be sure that our former military personnel still have what it takes to produce something remarkable!
In Frostweed, this "botanical phenomena" is brought about, because when that first hard freeze happens, the sap in the plant freezes, splits open the stem, and forms these "frost-flowers".
The real "scientific name" for this plant is Verbesina virginica, but not surprisingly, it has lots of nicknames. Besides Frostweed, it is sometimes called Iceplant, Iceweed, Indian tobacco, Squawweed, Crownbeard, and (I love this one!) Rabbit Butter! The plant is most often seen at the edges of woodlands, where it can form sizable colonies with its spreading rhizomes.
Under the right temperature and atmospheric conditions, the stems exude water that freezes into fascinating shapes. The ice crystals formed on the stems have been given many names---ice ribbons, ice flowers, ice fringes, ice filaments, frost beards, and frost ribbons---to name just a few. When I was doing my Bible study this morning, I read a verse that seemed to describe this remarkable process perfectly: "What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations." Psalm 104:24 (The Message)
The website www.wildflower.org says the plant is best suited as a transitional plant between manicured and wild areas. That is exactly where I routinely see it grow---where my front yard stops, and the woodland begins, as shown in this photo. That website also shows what the plant looks like in the summertime, when it is blooming with the more traditional definition of a "flower".
I titled this post "Frostweed sculpts 11/11/11" because when I first looked out the window to see it this morning, the radio was announcing that today is 11/11/11, and is the day set aside to honor our veterans. My mind's eye saw "elevens" in those vertical strips of white! I am glad I did not wait until 11:11 am to photograph them, however, because by that time they had all melted! No matter WHERE we look today, we can see the beauty of God's creation, and give thanks to the veterans who have served our country so that we can preserve that beauty! Miles of 11/11/11 smiles! Tricia