Saturday, November 15, 2014

Frost Flowers for the First Time

Driving into St. Francois State Park for a hike with the gang I saw shredded white plastic bags scattered in the road shoulders and wondered who'd done that, and at the Mooner's Hollow trailhead I was told, "That's not litter. Go look at those. They're ice flowers."

How the stems split
Photog with flower
They were amazing little pearlized natural sculptures made of ice, each unique, some as big as a head--and new to me. When the earth is still warm but the air is freezing, sap rises from the plant into the stem, which then splits and emits moisture, bit by bit, like an oyster growing layers of pearl, and the result is delicate "frost flowers," also called "ice flowers", or "rabbit ice" (an old mountain term, said the oldest hiker, Butch; the appearance of frost flowers indicates "it's the time of year to hunt rabbits").

Ice flowers are unique to autumn and early winter. We were so absorbed in their wild beauty--like fabric netting, like ribbon candy--that a 2.5 mile hike took us two hours to complete.


Julia Gordon-Bramer said...

"The frost makes a flower.
The dew makes a star." -- Sylvia Plath

Victoria - Ozarks Crescent Mural said...

We were just talking about those yesterday when we saw them at Cape Fair Marina. Yours are much bigger.

divinebunbun said...

Julia, I hope SP saw them during her lifetime.