Frostweed Time Lapse, Take 2

November 28th, 2014 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

This is my second attempt at capturing a “frost flower” growing out of the frostweed plant (White Crownbeard).

I set up my camera and tripod at 1 a.m., the temperature was 29 deg., and the “flowers” had already started growing. I collected 5.5 hours of photos (1 per minute) which I made into this time lapse video, which is 1800 times faster than real time.

Click on the full-screen icon for the best viewing…the video is high-definition.

16 Responses to “Frostweed Time Lapse, Take 2”

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  1. John F. Hultquist says:

    Thanks for the effort; staying up to 1, I mean.
    I noticed the growth of the frost pushes the green leaves and stems out of the way as it forms.
    Many questions. How many of these are around and over how large of a region?
    If you put food coloring (thinking growing salt crystals) into the soil would the frost take on the color?

    • Roy Spencer says:

      Oh, I wouldn’t stay up till 1 am. I set my alarm for that time, went out to see if they were growing yet. There is about a dozen or so plants over an area maybe 40 ft across. Yes, I had thought of the food coloring, too. 🙂 Don’t know if it will happen again this season, the stems are pretty shredded now and we go below freezing maybe once a week. Might get one more try.

      • Massimo PORZIO says:

        Hi John and Dr. Spencer,
        I’m not sure the coloring will be transferred to the icy crystal, the first issue I thought is about the lowering of the freeze point of the resulting salt solution.
        Probably the colored salt never link to the frost.

        Have a nice weekend.


        • John F. Hultquist says:

          I was suggesting just the coloring, not salt.

          • Massimo PORZIO says:

            I apologize to having been not clear.
            I wrote “salt” just because the salty water is well known to freeze below 0°C at which pure-water freezes, but the things don’t change for any chemical compound dissolved in water.
            In effect most food coloring are sugars, complex hydrocarbons, fats or oils which anyways reduce the icy point.
            It’s called freezing-point depression, see here:


            The freezing point temperature of non pure-water is always below 0°C.

            Have a nice weekend.


          • Massimo PORZIO says:

            Hi John,
            of course, when I wrote “I’m not sure the coloring will be transferred to the icy crystal”, I was imply that I’M NOT SURE that the coloring will NOT be transferred to the icy crystal too.
            My above was just a first thought.
            My second thought is that many vegetables already have coloring chemicals embedded, but the frost above them is always color free.

            Anyways, I think that put food coloring into the soil, as you suggested, it could be a good experiment to try.

            I write this because I know that sometime I write message were I look like an expert in the field, who I’m not indeed.

            Have a nice day.


  2. Ernest Bush says:

    The beauty and elegance of one tiny spot of nature captured on this video. You really do need to look at it on full screen resolution to appreciate the detail.

  3. jimc says:

    Amazing, they grow from the inside and can not only support themselves, but actually push stuff aside as they do.

  4. ossqss says:

    I wonder if you could put a humidifier upstream and enhance the growth?

    That would be anthropogenic however 😉

    Neat stuff. Thanks

  5. Flemming Kjemtrup Sørensen says:

    Hi Roy, thank you so much for your amazing website packed with unbiased information regarding our climate. Also, stuff like this prisine frost video adds a touch of pure magic..!

    Kind regards


    Copenhagen, Denmark

  6. Thanks, Dr. Spencer.
    These frost flowers are fantastic!
    They will be no more when the Sun starts growing, that will bring serious global warming.

  7. David A. says:


  8. David Springer says:

    Haven’t got any here (near Austin, TX) yet this winter. Lots of white crownbeard. Usually see them maybe 5 mornings each year. Scores of them on those days.

  9. Maryann Cassidy says:

    Beautiful! Thanks, Dr. Spencer. I’ve never heard of frostweed, and I wouldn’t have thought of it living in Alabama if I had.

  10. monicabing422 says:

    Well said, great information!

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