|Frostweed, Verbesina virginica|
Often overlooked because their flowers are "only" white and not something more vivid. This nevertheless has been a great year for frostweed (Verbesina virginica). The tall late-season wildflower dominates the landscaping around the Visitor Center and surrounding plaza.
Also known as white crownbeard, iceplant, iceweed, Virginia crownbeard, Indian tobacco or richweed—so many names, isn't botany confusingly fun—it's a beautiful native addition to any backyard border.
But why is it called frostweed, iceplant and even iceweed? These names seem much too wintry for such a vibrant September offering.
Truth is, in the winter, the dead stems—still bloated with moisture laden pith—often freeze and split creating thin ribbons of ice exuded from the base of the plant during cold, frosty nights. The delicate shapes are beautiful, yet ephemeral, as the day warms the "ice ribbons" soon melt away.
- Story and photo by Stephen Lyn Bales