Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A Perfect Morning for Frostweed

Conditions have to be exactly right to find the fragile curls of frozen vapor emanating from the stems of Frostweed (Helianthemum canadense), a phenomenon worth rising early and dressing warmly to see.  The temperature has to fall below freezing, the night has to be clear and calm with no wind or snow, and you have to get there before the sun's rays reach the delicate "petals" of diaphanous frost and melt them into thin air.  Monday was just such a morning at Mud Pond at Moreau Lake State Park, and my friends Sue and Peter and I made sure to arrive on time.

It didn't take long for us to spot dozens of curls of frothy white ice surrounding the stems of Frostweed, a plant that in summer bears pretty yellow flowers and which prefers the sandy open area of the powerline clearcut that runs along the northern edge of Mud Pond.  I've known for years that this is a favorite habitat for Frostweed (also known as Rock Rose), but I have never seen so many plants exuding these beautiful fragile curls.  Here's just a sampling:

The frost was doing all kinds of pretty things this morning, including spangling these strawberry leaves with crystals, . . .

. . . and spiking the fuzzy leaves of Common Mullein with sparkling needles.

After thoroughly exploring the powerline to delight in this seldom-seen and marvelous display, we next made our way to the end of Potter Road and down through the woods to come out on the shore of the Hudson River.  Here the river runs back behind a large island, and the water this morning lay still as glass, reflecting the gorgeous autumn foliage and the mountains rising beyond the far bank.

As we made our way along the shore, each vista loomed even lovelier than the one before.

We walked through the woods to arrive at a large bay on the open river, and here we could stand and gaze at the kind of beauty that makes us happy to be alive in this gorgeous part of the world in this splendid season.

Fruit-laden Winterberry shrubs added their exuberant beauty to the scene.

And wonder of wonders, look what we found!  A tiny Shadblow tree had ventured to put out a tuft of flowers, almost as if in defiance of today's frost.  This is one of our earliest shrubs to bloom in the spring, and although we often find it producing fuzzy baby leaves in the fall, we have never, ever, seen it come into flower this late in the year.

Incredibly splendid against the blue sky were the scarlet leaves of a Black Tupelo tree.

Autumn beauty lay around our feet as well as towering over our heads.  The ruby-red leaves of Low Blueberry seemed to glow against a carpet of Wintergreen leaves.

A pretty veil of rosy-pink Dewberry leaves spread across a boulder ringed with the green leaves and lavender flowers of asters.


R Carey said...

outstanding images!!

The Furry Gnome said...

That Frostweed is just the most intriguing plant!

Unknown said...

that was a great image i like it its so beautiful

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Pam said...

I saw frostweed for the first time last year, it was such a delightful discovery! What a lovely morning you captured.

Lisa Goyne said...

Wow! So cool! I wonder if that stuff is in Montana....