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Frost flowers

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Uploaded on Jan 5, 2008

The white crownbeard (Verbesina virginica) is a native plant that grows in abundance a few hundred meters from the banks of Geronimo Creek, Texas. Typical mature plants are around 1.5 meters high, and some may reach 3 meters.

Mature white crownbeards have large leaves on a single stem crownded by a canopy of small, white flowers.

Crownbeards lose their leaves after the first frost. When the temperature is a few degrees below freezing, the stems of the plant rupture as frozen water emerges in delicate whorls and fans. The delicate ice sculpture may completely cover the 30 cm or so of the stem nearest the ground.

As the temperature warms above freezing, the delicate ribbons of ice begin to melt and fall to the ground. In doing so, long segments of ice appear to rotate downward as their weight pulls them toward the ground. Large sections of sculpted ice may fall at once. Or the ice may drop to the ground in ribbonlike flakes no thicker than a business card.

See the Gallery page of my web site for more: www.forrestmims.org.

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