About one foot high. Leaves. - Set close to the stem, simple, lance-oblong. Flowers. - Of two kinds : the earlier, more noticeable ones, yellow, solitary, about one inch across; the later ones small and clustered, usually without petals. Calyx. - (Of the petal-bearing flowers) of five sepals. Corolla. - Of five early falling petals which are crumpled in the bud. Stamens. - Numerous. Pistil. - One, with a three-lobed stigma.
These fragile bright yellow flowers are found in gravelly places in early summer. Under the influence of the sunshine they open once; by the next day their petals have fallen, and their brief beauty is a thing of the past. On June 17th Thoreau finds this "broad, cup-like flower, one of the most delicate yellow flowers, with large spring-yellow petals, and its stamens laid one way."
In the Vale of Sharon a nearly allied rose-colored species abounds. This is believed by some of the botanists who have travelled in that region to be the Rose of Sharon which Solomon has celebrated.
The name of frost-weed has been given to our plant because of the crystals of ice which shoot from the cracked bark at the base of the stem in late autumn.