Frost Flowers

Deep in our November slumber
We know not that Nature weaves
Petals of silken ice
From water droplets
Dripping through fissures opened
By expanding freezing sap
In remnants of summer growth.

Spun by Nature’s cold fingers
The petals grow and transform
Lifelike but not alive
Supplanting our nocturnal visions
With a waking dream
Only few behold –
A field bejeweled with
Ghostly crystalline flowers
Quickly melting
In the late autumn sun.

Frost flower Ozarks 01

By Slomoz (http://flickr.com/photos/60053822@N00/3203335818/) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

413px-Frost_flower_Ozarks_01

Photo Description:

Frost flower in the Ozark Mountains, USA

Frost flower Ozarks 03

By Slomoz (http://flickr.com/photos/60053822@N00/3202521305/) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

689px-Frost_flower_Ozarks_03-opt

Photo Description:

Frost flower in the Ozark Mountains, USA

Frost flower Ozarks 04

By Slomoz (http://flickr.com/photos/60053822@N00/3202521307/) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

534px-Frost_flower_Ozarks_04-opt

Photo Description:

Frost flower in the Ozark Mountains, USA

Frost Flowers

By John Connor

http://www.crh.noaa.gov/images/lmk/nov18_2011_frost_flowers/nov12/Conner9_med.jpg
http://www.crh.noaa.gov/images/lmk/nov18_2011_frost_flowers/nov12/Conner10_med.jpg

Photos courtesy of the National Weather Service

Conner9_med-opt

Conner10_med-opt

Photo Description:

Both photos were taken on the morning of November 14, 2012 in southern Kentucky.  The low that morning was 27°, with a temperature of 31° at the time the pictures were taken.  The flowers formed on yellow wingstems.

Some cold hard facts about frost flowers:

  • Frost flowers are rare and will form only when specific conditions occur. They tend to appear in late autumn and early winter when there are freezing temperatures but the ground is not frozen.
  • Frost flowers are fragile. They will break when touched.
  • Frost flowers tend to develop on tall weed plants such as Helianthemum canadense (frostweed),  Verbesina virginica (frostweed, iceweed), and Verbesina alternifolia (wingstem,  golden ironweed).
  • Other names for frost flowers include frost castles, ice castles, ice blossoms, or crystallofolia.

Sources:

“Crystallofolia in Central Texas” (Plant Resources Center — The University of Texas at Austin)

“Frost Flowers” (Missouri Department of Conservation)

“Frost Flowers” (National Weather Service)

“Frost Flowers” (Texas Parks and Wildlife)

“Frost Flower” (Wikipedia)

Strangest Weather On Earth: Rare Frost Flowers! (YouTube video)

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