First Photos of 2023-Verbesina virginica (Frostweed/White Crownbeard)

Verbesina virginica (White Crownbeard/Frostweed) on 1-30-23, #928-1.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. I was in the process of writing descriptions for the Verbesina virginica (White Crownbeard/Frostweed, etc.) page Sunday evening and a thought came into my mind… I have been taking photos of this species since 2018 but had not ventured out in the cold to see if I could find any of its frost flowers. My higher self butted in to the thought and said, “You could try it tomorrow since it will be very cold.” Hmmm… The return thought was it is already January 30 and I should have tried before. My higher self returned with, “There’s that “should have” again.” ”

The White Crownbeard has been one of my favorite wildflowers with its odd winged stems and big clusters of flowers. I first published the page in 2018 and continued adding new photos and finally wrote descriptions.

I always thought the frost flowers were formed during the first hard freeze and that was it. BUT, as I was reading the page for the species on the Arkansas Native Plant Society, I found out it wasn’t a one-time thing.

It was 16° when I got up so I knew I would have to give the chickens fresh water. They don’t particularly like hard water, you know. I also needed to give the birds more seed because they hit the feeders pretty hard when it is cold. So, I got ready to go outside and somehow the camera snuck into my coat pocket. I took a bucket of chicken feed and a bucket for water to the hydrant then looked off in the distance to where the White Crownbeard/Frostweed were. All the way down to the south boundary fence of the farm… All the way and it was 16°.

I did have on an insulated flannel shirt, my heaviest coat, and the warmest gloves. I wasn’t cold yet so I started walking. On the way, the sock on my right foot started sliding down in the rubber boot (at least my boots are Dry Shods).

Once I was at the spot where the Verbesina virginica always grew, all I could see was dead stems. Not that I was expecting anything else since it is January 30.

Verbesina virginica (White Crownbeard/Frostweed) on 1-30-23, #928-2.

Lo and behold I spotted frost weed at the base of two dead stems several feet apart.

Verbesina virginica (White Crownbeard/Frostweed) on 1-30-23, #928-3.

I have seen photos online that looked like frozen waterfalls coming from the stems. Likely, I would have seen that “if” I had looked earlier when we had a first freeze.

Verbesina virginica (White Crownbeard/Frostweed) on 1-30-23, #928-4.

It looks like a blob of ice, but it is actually more like a ribbon. Very thin and brittle…

Verbesina virginica (White Crownbeard/Frostweed) on 1-30-23, #928-5.

I was glad I went out in the cold and took the camera. If anything, it is an inspiration to go out next winter when we have a first freeze.

By the time I got back, my hands were freezing but the coat I had on was making me almost sweat. I got the chickens fed and gave them fresh water and the birds have more seed.

I went to get the mail, and apparently, the mail carrier got a little to close. I noticed before I went outside (looking through the window) the mailbox was leaning a little. There are two mailboxes, one for me and one for across the street. The carrier got them both! How could that happen after so many years? At least the posts are still intact and the mailboxes are OK.

Until next time, be safe and stay positive. Keep warm and always be thankful!

 

Six on Saturday-Short Walk on the Wild Side

Asclepias hirtella (Tall Green Milkweed)

Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well. We had a nice week with temperatures not too unbearable at all. I took a walk through the hayfield a couple of days ago to check on the progress of the Elephantopus carolinianus in the back of the farm. It always amazes me how some wildflowers start growing like mad after the hay is cut.

#1-Asclepias hirtella (Tall Green Milkweed)

Asclepias hirtella (Tall Green Milkweed)

There were several Asclepias hirtella, the Tall Green Milkweed, blooming again. Normally, they don’t flower the second time but they are this year. I can’t quite figure out why they call this species Tall Green Milkweed when there are other species that grow much taller…

 

#2)-Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot)

Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot) under the persimmon tree.

I have walked to the back of the farm several times over the summer to check on the progress of the Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot). These are really neat wildflowers that I only noticed growing on the farm last fall after they had already dried up. I found the dried up flowers and leaves in an area that grows up in poison ivy and other brush but I marked the spot…

Elephantopus carolinianus (Leafy Elephant’s Foot)

I was very happy when I found a colony under the persimmon tree so I won’t have to walk to the spot I found them earlier. Well, I usually go there anyway… The plants have mostly buds with a few flowers beginning to open up. Until the flowers are fully open, I can’t show you why I think they are so neat.

I walked through the brush behind the ponds to check on the Symphyotrichum lateriflorum (Calico Aster) and S. ontarionis (Ontario Aster) but so far no flowers. At this point, they still look the same. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are both the same species but only time will tell…

#3)-Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed)

Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed)

This area in front of the two back ponds is LOADED with Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed). The wind was blowing so there wasn’t as much activity on the flowers as usual.

Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed)

The above photo isn’t that great because, as I mentioned, the wind was blowing… Many species of butterflies and other insects love ironweeds. Later on, they will be swarming with Monarch Butterflies and the always interesting hummingbird moths.

Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed)

The Vernonia baldwinii (Baldwin’s or Western Ironweed) grow in another area. Baldwin’s Ironweed have recurved involucral bracts where Missouri Ironweed’s bracts are appressed. To be honest, some of the flowers in this colony have recurved bracts and some don’t… The two species do hybridize which can drive a person batty…

#4-Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster)

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster)

I walked to the pond in the front pasture to check on the Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster) which is also a late bloomer. They are also kind of late to come up in the spring which had me wondering if they survived the winter. The New England Aster grows to over 6′ tall. I put a water bottle at the base of the plant for size comparison…

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster)

I only found this species last fall because we had a late “F” and the flowers are pink. Their clusters of flowers caught my attention from quite a distance. I am hoping the same will be true this fall. They are working on it.

#5-Verbesina virginica (White Crownbeard/Frostweed)

Verbesina virginica (White Crownbeard/Frostweed)

One of my favorite wildflowers on the farm is the Verbesina virginica also known as White Crownbeard and Frostweed. These are also very tall plants that grow much taller than me… They are always in the same location every year.

Verbesina virginica (White Crownbeard/Frostweed)

They aren’t exactly early bloomers either, but they are getting there.

Verbesina virginica (White Crownbeard/Frostweed)

They do have neat white flowers in time, but the neatest thing is their winged stems and very long leaves.

#6-Strophostyles helvola (Amberique Bean)

Strophostyles helvola (Amberique Bean/Trailing Fuzzy Bean)

Even though seeing the Elephantopus carolinianus beginning to flower was exciting, I believe the find of the day was the Strophostyles helvola (Amberique Bean/Trailing Fuzzy Bean). The first time I found this species there were only a few flowers and the leaves had all dried up. Since then, I have kept an eye on them. This year I found a few growing closer to the gate and was able to get some good photos.

Strophostyles helvola (Amberique Bean/Trailing Fuzzy Bean)

From a distance, they resemble an off-color sweet pea. I kind of like this color much better than pink. 🙂

That completes my Six on Saturday kindly hosted by The Propagator. Be sure to check out the other Six on Saturday posts.

Well, I better get going for now. Until next time, be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful. Be sure to get dirty if you can!