Saturday, December 12, 2009

Don't Judge a Book By Its Cover


In Texas, we have a plethora of amazing wildflowers. Some years we get quite a show, and some years you'd never know we had wildflowers at all. It depends on rain and winter temperatures. The last couple years it has been extremely dry and mild.
What we do get, in spite of the weather, are the flowers that many consider to be weeds.
One such weed actually has 'weed' in its name. No mistaking this plant for anything else.

Frost Weed aka Verbesina virginica L.

It is one sad looking plant. It can grow quite tall (4 ft) and get leggy. The only reason I let them grow at all is that the butterflies and bees LOVE them.
In the fall of 2008 the monarchs came through on their way to Mexico. It was amazing. The patch of homely Frost Weed was covered in beautiful butterflies, refueling on their way south.
Another reason to keep it around is for the local honeybees. Last summer was so brutal that few plants bloomed for the bees to gather nectar. Frost Weed isn't the least bit worried about a little dry, hot weather.
The big surprise about this plant comes after the first frost. I always wondered why they called it Frost Weed, but assumed it was because the flowers were white.
Not so.
I found out the "why" of the name several winters ago. I was walking to the barn where my horse was stabled. I barely looked up because I was cold and underdressed. I glanced up as I opened the gate and looked out on the pasture.
"Whose trash can blew over?!"
The pasture was covered in what looked like shredded, white plastic bags.
I leaned over to pick some of it up and discovered it was ice!
It looked just like curly, Christmas candy.

On the stalk of every Frost Weed was this amazing bit of icy art. It turns out that as the plant dies, it sends its sap into the ground, much like a tree. When the ground and the surrounding air reach freezing, the sap and water ooze up the stalk of the plant. It then breaks open the stalk and begins spilling out. As it hits the frozen air, it curls and flakes.
They are called Frost flowers.

It's the most amazing show of natural beauty to me. Small and delicate. Most people never see it here in Texas, because the mornings warm up so quickly. If I didn't have hungry animals that eat at first light, I'd miss it to.
Just another tiny something that God has provided me, a nature lover, with. I have learned over the years to look up. To look down. To turn over rocks. The be quiet. To be patient. All those things provide me with another way to be closer to my God. It is said that God is in everything.
For me, God is especially in nature.
Even in homely plants and animals. I just have to get out of bed.

4 comments:

  1. I have never even hears of those before. They are so beautiful. Thats so cool that you got to see them!

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  2. That is so cool! No wonder you thought the white flowered plants in our field might be frostweed. They are similar looking all right.

    I agree with you, being out and paying attention to nature is a great way to get closer to God. It's amazing some of the designs!

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  3. That is amazing! A double wonder of a plant! Maybe not the prettiest flower on the block, but if it feeds butterflies abundantly like that I would definitely grow it, weed or no weed. I think you were given a gift to witness that early morning miracle! How lucky you are. I would have slept right through it. No telling how much we never know about, because we missed it. I understand your feelings about all the miracles of nature.

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  4. Oh my gosh! Those are so beautiful! I've never heard of them before either. I love those pictures. Just awesome.

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