Friday, March 13, 2015

Frost flowers

Courtesy of  RealBoyle.com
Many people contact the Department of Botany for help in identifying plants or for advice.  A recent enquiry from Majella O’Sullivan, the Southwest correspondent of the Irish Independent, was very interesting as it was about frost flowers.  She had some wonderful images of this phenomenon captured by a walker  in woodlands near Lough Key Forest Park in Co. Roscommon during January. Frost flowers form by ice being extruded from the pores of plant debris or soil.  The conditions for their formation have to be very precise, which is why they are rarely observed.  The air temperature has to be below freezing while the ground temperature is not. When these conditions occur  water, which expands when frozen, can be drawn out of the decaying wood through small fissures and pores by capillary action.  As this happens long thin filaments of ice form creating this phenomenon. 
Courtesy of  RealBoyle.com

Post: Nick Gray

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