Texas Natives – October, 2007
Frost may not be on the pumpkins yet, but throughout much of Texas and 10 other eastern, southern and midwestern states, frostweed (Verbesina virginica) is beginning to flower. This North American fall-blooming perennial may reach 3 to 6 feet in height before the white clusters of flowers appear on the terminal ends of branches.
Frostweed in flower is a star floral attraction for fall butterflies, particularly migrating Monarch butterflies. It is not unusual to find three or more butterflies enjoying a feeding frenzy on one flower cluster. Frostweed is one of the ‘ice flowers’ – it produces delicate, short-lived ice formations at the bases of its stems under certain conditions in winter. They are an ephemeral sight to behold in early morning, quickly melting in the first rays of sunlight.
For more on this plant, and to see what’s happening at Texas Discovery Gardens this month, go to www.texasdiscoverygardens.org/texasnatives.htm.
About the author: Tina Dombrowski is the Director of Horticulture at Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park, Dallas. She has a particular interest in Texas native plants, butterflies, pollinating insects and their interconnected histories.