Magical frost flowers – again

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It was just slightly below freezing this past week, and I didn’t think the temperature was quite cold enough for “frost flowers” (ice formations). However, I looked out the window and saw something white. I immediately headed for the backyard, and sure enough, there they were.

Fost flowers backlit by sunFrost flowers are the primary reason I grow Common Dittany (Cunila origanoides). It’s a small airy plant (about 1 ft tall), great for edges, and I look forward to its small delicate lavender flowers in midsummer and seed heads (pictured below).

Common dittany seed headsI’m never sure when frost flowers will appear or what they will look like, but they’re always a great surprise. I love the delicate curves and swirls, especially when they’re back-lit by the sun. For more information on what causes them, see my 2011 frost flower post.

Frost flower flose-upCommon Dittany is another Kentucky native plant that I wish was better known. I’m delighted to have it in my backyard year-round, and especially glad for the winter magic it provides.

9 thoughts on “Magical frost flowers – again”

  1. Betty that is spectacular! Everything must be just right where you are. I’ve spoken to a number of plants people who have never seen one. I know I’ve never seen one live–so I’m grateful to you for capturing this and sharing. maryann

  2. Great photos Betty! Your closeups capture the delicate curves and elegant beauty of frost flowers. I too have never seen them in person, and inspired by your photos will search for them on frosty days.

  3. These are beautiful. I will start actively looking for them in my back fields on frosty mornings. Can they appear on any frosty morning or does there have to be a certain temp, humidity, etc?
    Also, can you tell me again what type of camera you used to capture these? Think that this is the year I’m going to invest in a new one

    1. Marsha, I was using a Canon PowerShot SX50HS. I’ve had it for some time and like it a lot. Price range – $300-350.Not sure if it is still being manufactured. It’s considered a ‘bridge’ camera – a cross between a point and shoot and SLR. You cannot change the lens. It’s light weight and fun to use.

      As to when they occur, it’s usually about this time of year when the ground is not frozen but the air temperature is below freezing. The only two plants I’ve seen them on are dittany and white crownbeard. White crownbeard (sometimes called wingstem or frostweed)is common in many Kentucky fields.

  4. Hello Betty
    Oh, i am so delighted to see these amazing ‘Frost Flowers’ once again, and today’s photos of the Common Dittany in your backyard are superb. As you say, having them back-lit by the sun truly enhances the curves and swirls! I can never see
    enough of these wonderful ‘flowers’ ! Magical!

  5. Betty, I expanded the last picture on my phone to see VERY close up. Nature is amazing as is your ability to capture it. Sharon

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