Saturday, November 22, 2008

Teakettle frostflower



I've written about Frost Flowers before, but I don't remember ever seeing them this early.

This teakettle was formed from the stem of a White crownbeard flower (Verbesina virginica). Dr James Carter has the definitive page on Frost Flowers. He's also done a lot of fun experiments on extruding ice from pipes (also here).

The forecast was for 23°F last night (-5°C), but here in our glacial little microclimate, it was 13°F (-11°C) when we woke up this morning. Too bad it's not always 10° cooler in the summer too.

14 comments:

PG said...

I have never heard or seen these before (we don't have them in the UK) - they are incredible, and so beautiful.

Rurality said...

PG, there is also a link in there for ice formations like this, but from wood. That is supposed to be more common in Europe than here in the US.

swamp4me said...

That is so cool - no pun intended, of course. We have yellow crownbeard (V. occidentalis I think) here, but I've never seen it do that.

Gail said...

Fascinating! I am going to have to read more about them!

Gail

nina said...

It was close to 10 degrees for us, too--(southern Ohio)
And I was pleased to find all sorts of frozen lovelies!
(trying to be upbeat about an unseasonably cold morning!)

karl said...

they call that ditney frost in these parts. i using my google-foo i haven't found any other references to it by that name

Rurality said...

Swampy, I'm not sure if the other variety does that too, but I would assume so.

Gail, I have to admit that the first time I ever saw them, I wondered what all that dog hair was doing up against the edge of the woods. :)

Nina, it's way too early for that all the way down here! Thankfully it was only the one day.

Karl, thanks, I hadn't heard that term before!

Pablo said...

I've only seen frost flowers once in all of my rambles in the woods. I think it's mostly a matter of timing. I understand the only form in the late fall/early winter when there is still enuf water in the stems of the plants to get extruded by the freezing.

Rurality said...

Well duh, it would serve be better to read Dr Carter's page more thoroughly. He says, "I found two plant species associated with the name frost flower: Dittany, or Wild Oregano, Cunila origanoides, and White Crownbeard, or Frostweed, Verbesina virginica."

So Dittany must be where Karl's "Ditney frost" comes from. And, it seems as though the yellow variety might not be a source, after all.

And Pablo, he also says that "These form when the water in the soil remains above freezing while the air temperature falls below freezing. The conditions would be optimal on clear nights with no wind, when the dominant cooling process is net radiation." They aer drawing water from the ground, BTW.

Ontario Wanderer said...

I've not seen these. It may be too cold for me to look now but then again the temperature is supposed to be above freezing today so . . .

Ontario Wanderer said...

I've not seen these. It may be too cold for me to look now but then again the temperature is supposed to be above freezing today so . . .

Mary said...

Rurality, you're right. Too bad the temps don't drop overnight in the summer months. We have overnight in the teens but warms to 40's daytime.

Pamela said...

never seen anything like it. I will certainly be looking at our local flora for such icy "blooms"

lisa said...

Amazing! I've never seen or heard of such a thing...you have the coolest, most educational posts!