Marsh Meanderings III Ice – Flowers (b)

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Ice Flowers are another frozen water phenomenon.  These are associated with specific plants.  In the Abbott Marshlands, we have two such species.  These are Wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia) and Frost Weed (Helianthemum canadense).  The first is a tall perennial that flowers in late summer and can be found along the west edge of the trail near the Delaware River at the Created Wetland and also along the wooded edge near Watson’s Creek at Roebling Park; the second we’ve found in flower only once at the south edge of the trail (open sandy area) at the Bordentown Bluffs.

Required conditions for ice flowers to form include moist soil that hasn’t frozen, appropriate plant stems, and freezing air temperature.

The cut stems in the photo are those of Wingstem. 

Stems function as wicks for soil water; the water freezes when exposed to cold air.

The ice flowers shown here were found in a wood planter on our Kendall Park patio: our first ever!  The critical thing is that there were Wingstem plants that had grown up in the planter; the original plants came from seeds collected at the created wetland on Duck Is.  AND the soil had been moistened from a couple of pails of water that had been dumped there as we tidied up the patio.  And early morning temperatures were cold.

 

 

 

 

 

Links that provide information about these frozen novelties.

http://my.ilstu.edu/~jrcarter/ice/segregation/

http://my.ilstu.edu/~jrcarter/ice/flowers/

https://www.farmersalmanac.com/frost-flowers-19623

http://my.ilstu.edu/~jrcarter/ice/

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cocktail-party-physics/from-the-archives-frost-flowers-and-hot-capillary-action/

https://www.ocean.washington.edu/story/Frost+Flowers+Foster+Microbes

https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/climate-weather/stories/7-strange-ice-formations

and a citation:

Fantastic Frost Crystals on Dried Stems of Dittany

Author: Raymond N. Torrey

Source: Torreya, Vol. 31, No. 1 (January-February, 1931), pp. 10-12.

His observations were made on Kittatiny Mountain in Warren County, NJ.

 

Frost flowers

 

Wingstem flowers with honey bee.

Ice Flower photographs were taken in Kendall Park; original seeds for Wingstem came from the Abbott Marshlands.

All other ice photographs were taken at the Abbott Marshlands or adjacent Delaware River.

All photographs are the property of the photographer, MA Leck; please address questions to:  info@abbottmarshlands.org.

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