Frost Flowers…Rare Winter Delights!
The first cold mornings we experience as winter sets in hold a lot of energy in the crisp silent air. There is magic out there if you know where to look. When the conditions are right and your eyes are searching you may just find one of the most beautiful ephemeral flowers on earth.
Frost flowers are made from thin ribbons of translucent ice formed by the cold air drawing the remaining water out of the capillaries and roots of dormant perennials. Usually this happens only when the ground is warm and moist and the air temperature gets very cold. Although not true flowers these delicate beauties are a natural occurrence that burst forth and blossom from the remains of last-year’s growth. Otherworldly is how I would describe them, especially on a silent frosty morning. They appear to be made of spun glass or cotton candy. You have to catch these beauties quick because they are destroyed by the kiss of the sun and are usually only produced on the first day or two of a hard frost.
I took the pictures below in Forest Park a couple of years ago and one was taken just the other morning at the U city High School. Some of the plants on which we find them on are White Crownbeard also known as Frostweed, Dittany and Stinkweed. There is something very harmonious about such a fleeting treasure borne out of a killing frost that can be so destructive. It gives us pause to find something that fills us with hope and sadness at the same time, something so beautiful and unpossessable…seemingly woven from dreams.