Frost Flowers: nature’s delicate ice sculptures

Frost Flowers: nature’s delicate ice sculptures

A recent tip from a friend introduced me to the beauty of a natural phenomenon  commonly known as the frost flower.  The following images, first found on Wikipedia, were taken from an interesting blog “kuriositas”, which offers unusual photos and text highlighting relatively obscure features of the planet.  The original photos were posted by several Flickr Users, including Mark Adams who signs as markinspecx.

frost flower 1
Image credit – Flickr User Lotus Flower

Incredibly beautiful and very rare, these frost flowers are formed on early fall or winter mornings when ice in very thin layers is pushed out from  the stems of plants, or sometimes, wood.

frost flower 2
Image credit: Flickr User markinspecx

The ideal conditions for this formation is a freezing air temperature combined with unfrozen ground, so that water can be sucked up the stem.  As the air temperature falls, the sap in the plant expands and under that pressure, microscopic fissures form on the outer layer of the stem. When the pressure finally causes the tissue to split, water seeps through the cracks and freezes. More water following up the stem reaches the cracks and pushes the earlier sliver of ice away from the stem, thus creating the delicate “petals” seen in these images.

frost flower 3
Image credit: Flickr User crestedcrazy

The scientific name for these frost flowers is Crystallo-folia, although that is considered by some to be a misnomer because frost is created by water vapour and yet frost flowers are created from liquid water.  Whatever the scientific debate, you can see many other lovely photos of frost flowers by checking out the Wikipedia entry or by going to, or searching for markinspecx and looking for  “Rabbit Frost” (yet another term for frost flowers).

Now that we’ve introduced an autumn topic to the blog, it’s time to remind gardeners in the Chester (NS) area that the first meeting of the new season will take place on September 16th. For details, click on the Current Activities page on the menu above.

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