Frost Flowers!

I’ve never seen a “frost flower” but then again I’ve never seen FROST here on the coast of Southern California
Thanks Sharon for my first glimpse!
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Description:                                                   is as beautiful as it is rare. A frost flower is created

on autumn or early winter mornings when ice
in extremely thin layers is pushed out from the stems

of plants or occasionally wood.
This extrusion creates wonderful patterns which curl
and fold into gorgeous frozen petioles giving
this phenomenon both its name and its appearance
Description:                                                   have to be just so … for frost flowers to form.
Early winter are the optimum time to come across them
… as although the weather conditions
must be freezing it is vital that the ground is not,
so water can be sucked up in the stem.Description:                                                                                                    

As the temperature gets to freezing or just below

…the sap in the stem of the plants will expand.
As it does so, the outer layer of the stem comes under
increasing pressure, and microscopically thin cracks,
known as linear fissures, begin to form. These will
finally give way under the pressure of the sap and split open.
forming cracks for the water to come out through …
and then freezeDescr<br /><br />
 iption:                                                   is continuously being drawn up the plant ‘s
stem while the ground remains unfrozen.
It travels up the plants external structural axis (stem!)
and reaches the split or splits.
As it does so, it oozes slowly out and it freezes.
Yet more water is coming behind it…Description:                                                                                                    

This new water reaches the cracks and it too freezes,
pushing the previous slither of ice away from the stem.
And in this manner the amazing ‘ petals ‘ that you see

in these pictures are formed.Incredibly, the frost flower effect can happen to wood
even when it has been made in to a fence or a gate,
as seen above. In this case the water is extruded through
the pores in the wood rather than cracks.Description:                                                   frost flower has a number of other names:
you may know them as frost castles, ice castles,
ice blossoms, or even the very scientific sounding
Yet the name is something of a misnomer: frost is
created by water vapor.
Frost flower
, on the other hand, are formed from
liquid water.

If you come across one – be careful!
Rather than attempt to pick it up, if you have a camera

or a phone with you, take a picture instead.
Frost flowers are incredibly delicate and will more often
than not, shatter when touched. 
Not only that, as they are made of such thin sheets
of ice, they will melt away as the sun rises higher
in the sky.
You may get frost flowers again the following day,
but unless the conditions are just right …
the chances are, your first glimpse may be your last

2 comments on “Frost Flowers!

  1. For some reason, the illustrations to your discussion (I assume the what appear as empty boxes are pictures) weren’t showing on my computer.
    I always liked the way frost can pattern a window into leaves, and delicate flowers.


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