Photo credit: Jennifer Fenwick
At first glance, this may look like just another photo manipulation, but it’s actually a real frost flower. To be more specific, this condition happens when thin layers of ice are extruded from long-stemmed plants in autumn or early winter. The thin layers of ice are often formed into exquisite patterns that curl into “petals” that resemble flowers. Continue reading for more images and information.
The formation of frost flowers is dependent on a freezing weather condition occurring when the ground is not already frozen. The sap in the stem of the plants will expand (water expands when frozen), causing long, thin cracks to form along the length of the stem. Water is then drawn through these cracks via capillary action and freezes upon contact with the air. As more water is drawn through the cracks it pushes the thin ice layers further from the stem, causing a thin “petal” to form. In the case of woody plants and (living or dead) tree branches the freezing water is squeezed through the pores of the plant forming long thin strings of ice that look uncannily like hair i.e. “hair ice” or “frost beard”.