Frost Flowers of Fall

There is a point during our fall season that borders on the winter side.

For the last week or so, NW Arkansas has been bombarded by freezing, cold air.  Before this cold snap, the weather had been pleasant and mild.

When these conditions happen,  frost flowers appear.

At first glance, these flowers look like little pieces of trash on the side of the road.  Upon closer examination, you will discover this.

frost flowers

Frost flowers form when the water in the ground has not frozen but the air temperature is below freezing.  As the water creeps up the stem, it freezes and bursts through the stem.  Between the outside cold air and more water freezing up through the stems, ice crystals form sometimes swirling around the plant like cotton candy.

frost flowers

This phenomenon only occurs on certain plants.   In our area,  dittany or false oregano (Cunila origanoides), yellow ironweed (Verbesina alternifolia),  and white crownbeard (Verbesina virginica) are the most common.

frost flowers

Once the ground has frozen or the stems of these plants have ruptured completely, the frost flower season will be over until next year.

frost flowers

Do you have frost flowers in your area?

 

p.s. I know this is not a “real” flower but I’m linking up today with May Dreams Garden for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.
p.s.s I am also linking up with the Chicken Chick for her weekly blog

About the blonde gardener

I'm an Arkansas girl born and raised. I garden in the beautiful Northwest part of the state (zone 6b or 7) surrounded by the Ozark Mountains. My favorite part about the area is we have 4 distinct seasons and are able to enjoy a variety of activities. My main passion is gardening but I also enjoy hiking, birding, 4-wheeling and motorcycle trips. Basically anything outside. Thanks for stopping by! Brenda
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27 Responses to Frost Flowers of Fall

  1. I had never seen such a thing! They are, well, cool!!! I’m in central Illinois.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never seen one either! How neat. Weather must be to crazy here in Ohio!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Buffy says:

    Beautiful! I have never seen one. I’ll have to watch closer! Beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lea says:

    Have never seen frost flowers here in north Mississippi.
    Very interesting phenomenon!
    Happy Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nell Jean says:

    While not a growing plant’s flowers, they are certainly interesting. I’ve never seen this phenomenon. Thanks for sharing it with us, Brenda. Something new to look for when there’s a freeze.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Chloris says:

    Frost flowers? How wonderful. I don’ t think we ever get them here.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nikki G says:

    Yes, we live near you in NW AR and see these each year. They do look like trash and probably a lot of folks think that is what they are seeing.Yet another truly unique piece of God’s artwork!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow…I have never seen anything like that. Very cool! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Barbara says:

    Have lived many places and never saw one – at least not that I realized I was seeing. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Me, neither, but now I want to, for sure.
    They do look like someone tossed a Styrofoam plate or something. 😦
    I’ve also never seen yellow ironweed. Love the purple, though many hate it. It’s not bad in the well-tended garden. Only have to keep after the seeds, no worse than some clematis. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing all these photos and being so observant!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. That’s so amazing! Never seen that before.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Beautiful frost flowers! I’ve seen them once in my garden. Enjoy your impending snow!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. bittster says:

    Cool pictures! I was looking around for some seeds of the plants which do this but then never followed through on it. Maybe I need to try a little harder!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Dawn says:

    Fascinating, Brenda! I’ve never heard of Frost Flowers before. Thanks for the nice photos of this interesting phenomenon!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. This is new to me! How interesting! We live and learn….

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Stephanie Herrmann says:

    I took pictures while hunting last weekend of the same exact thing in North Louisiana. Posted it on Facebook to the amusement and curiosity of my friends and one of my friends comes back with your article explaining what I had shared. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this in Chicago. I wonder if I’m just not paying attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Morgo says:

    Glad I ran into this site.

    My wife and I recently moved to the N. Ark. S. Mizzu lakes area. So many many wonderful sights to see, I was stunned and sad one morning when looking out at our little bluff valley. (little grass, rock ledges and whatever grows there)

    Why? First thought was how did these paper towels get all the way from the other side of our home where the trash dumpster is. Actually asked my wife why she put trash in the little can on this side of the place. Second thought, gonna take a lot of work to pick up all this trash, and they seem to be wrapped around vegetation. Which would have really been a chore. There must have been a couple of hundred.

    Went out to investigate finding Frost Flowers. If this area is not the most beautiful area of our nation, then please prove otherwise.

    Like

  19. Mags Corner says:

    Wow, that is something else I have learned from you. I have never heard of these they are pretty. Hugs

    Like

  20. Morgo says:

    So glad I ran into this site. You seem to hit just what my bride of 35 years desire and do down here. Oh, our favorite activity is stopping at small private antique shops as we wind down a road simply picked by a whim. (our favorite discovery so far, Dinky’s Restaurant)

    Grew up in this area, (moved away when 14) and always had great respect for the natural wonders. Whether exploring caves, or just sitting on a bluff watching the Sun go down, an incredible area for interspect thinking. After a brief flirtation with moving to N.Mex from our home in the cold, snowy, icy, drifting, power going off, nice home in the Northern Plains, picked moving back home to the Ozarks. Been here since Aug. now. Note the date, it’s 74 degrees as I peck this out.

    Are we glad we did. With all this, the area is so affordable. As the Blonde Gardner states……pick the private places to do business with….we’ve had nothing but great service and friendly folks to deal with.

    As with the wonderment of our Frost Flowers**see above post, to simply watching the leaves fall making so many things not noticed become visible. The outstanding forests hide so much during the Spring and Summer. Much to our surprise, the bluff above our home has a home on it. hahahhah

    As your site most certainly explains, this area is so so so fun and gorgeous. We live just over the border in Missouri. We can go natural and just drive stopping where we feel, or more formal plans, hit the music shows and other attractions this area is known for.

    Make this area a bucket list stop, or do what my el wifo and I did. Live out the rest of your life in wonderful natural beauty.

    Like

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