Friday, November 18, 2011

A Perfect Frostweed Morning



I'd been waiting for a morning just like this: clear and still and cold enough for a good hard frost.  We had a dusting of snow in Saratoga Springs, but when I arrived at Mud Pond in Moreau, I was pleased to see that no snow had fallen to obscure the frothy curls of frozen sap exuded from the stems of the Frostweed (Helianthemum canadense) that grows prolifically there along a sandy path.



In June, and once again in August, Frostweed bears yellow flowers that are pretty enough but easily overlooked or undiscovered, since they're small and bloom for only a day or so.  What really sets this native plant apart are the icy curls that form at the base of its wiry stems during the first few days of freezing temperatures in late fall.  These curls are formed when the stems split lengthwise as they freeze, allowing the plant's sap to ooze out, freezing hard in the frigid air.  This phenomenon occurs for only a few days, until the plant's sap is spent and the roots freeze.  I missed this event last year, so I was really happy to find the process in full swing this morning.  I was able to take lots of photos.













I was sure to arrive at this site before the sun rose high enough to warm the plants and melt the frothy ice.  Ten minutes after I took this photo, the Frostweed curls had disappeared.


8 comments:

The Cranky Crone, she lives alone! said...

Wow, I have never seen anything like that before, thank you for the pictures.d

threecollie said...

That is just plain cool! Thank you for taking time to introduce and photograph such an interesting phenomenon. The never-ending, heck, never even slowing down, wonders of what the natural world offers if we take the time to look and listen will never cease to astonish me. Thanks again.

laurak@forestwalkart said...

beautiful 'ice sculptures'!!!!

hikeagiant2 said...

Your first shot is exquisite and the 'ice curls' just amazing.

Thanks for the comment on my blog - I don't know if I'd feel this way if we had lots of beavers at SG, but how very cool to see beavers, mink, otters, and all the other things you find up where you are, that have vanished from our Giant, or, at the very least, hidden themselves from the onslaught of mostly urban visitors...estimated over 100,000 last year.
Thanks to your blog, I enjoy vicariously, and live in hope.

Caroline said...

That is certainly a new one for me! Ma Nature is certainly creative. Nice camera work.

Virginia said...

Now and then I go on your blog and read back until I get to where I had left off previously. What a visual treat! Such outstanding photos. I would love to have gone cranberrying with you! I was thinking of you recently when an ADK friend asked me if I was ever going to offer the Palmertown ridge that you and I got rained out of last year. Still haven't been there....

Ellen Rathbone said...

I've still never seen this phenomenon. Hope springs eternal.

Woodswalker said...

Dear friends, I am so grateful for all your kind comments. It's wonderful to know so many folks as enchanted as I am about the natural world.