Ice Tissue {What Is It?}

 

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I’d like to share with all you wonderful readers a very fun and interesting phenomena we have that happens on our farm this time every single year.  The story goes like this….

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One morning in our first winter here, I looked out the window and all down our hillside were what I thought were hundreds of little white tissues.  I was puzzling over how tissues from a Kleenex box blew all over the hill, when Eldon came in the door and said, “There are the strangest ice things all over the farm”!  We named them Tissue Ice!

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Every year we get them.  They are so very interesting.  This week I decided to do a little research and see what they are called and what causes them to develop like they do.

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They seem to appear before we are full into winter, but with freezing temperatures at night.  When the temperatures get very cold in about  January and the ground really freezes solid, we don’t get them anymore.

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It also seems like they kind of “grow” around the grass and that is what holds them in place, although there is no grass inside them.

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They are absolutely beautiful.  They remind me of spun taffy or cotton candy.

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They look very sturdy in the field, but the minute you pick one up they turn into millions of little shards of ice.

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They just kind of blow me away with their beauty.

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So, in my googling on Internet and my searching using every word I could think of, I found nothing.  I told my husband that I wondered if maybe they were just a phenomena of nature and couldn’t really be explained.  Well… that led to a google search of phenomenas of nature.  And I found them!

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And guess what their technical name is?  Frost Flowers!  I just love that.  And here is the definition of a Frost Flower:

Frost Flowers are caused by buildups of ice particles around the base of certain plants and types of wood. When the temperature outside the plant is below freezing and the temperature within them is not, then water is pulled to the surface in a process similar to transpiration. This leads to a fragile chain of ice being pushed outward, which ends up forming sprawling, delicate formations.

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So… how many of you Farmgirls (and Farmguys) knew about Frost Flowers?  If you’ve never seen them before, I hope you get to someday.  They are honestly such an amazing quirk of nature.  And so much fun to photograph.  All the above pictures are mine and honestly I could’ve taken hundreds.

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I hope you had a most wonderful Thanksgiving Day.  And that Frost Flowers are a part of your winter!

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Until our gravel roads cross again… so long!

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Dori

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Leave a comment 54 Comments

  1. Luanne Erickson says:

    Never heard of frost flowers! Lucky for you when your summer flowers die you can look forward to frost flowers!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Lu,

      I know… when I saw the name Frost Flowers, it just seemed so right! :-)

      Love you huge, best friend of mine!

      – Dori –

  2. April says:

    A friend of mine Oklahoma has found them in the woods this same time of year. So lovely.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      April,

      I can see how Oklahoma would have them too… the humid conditions in early winter are definitely a part of their formation. And they are so lovely!

      – Dori –

  3. Cheryl says:

    Never heard of frost flowers but they are beautiful!! Thanks for sharing!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Cheryl,

      I hope you get to see them someday. If you are ever in the South in the early winter and you see tissues in the field… make sure you stop and look close! :-)

      – Dori –

  4. Hi Dori. I have seen these before, and they are beautiful. Mother Nature News (mnn.com) had an article on them last year, I think it was. I’ve only seen them in places where there is humidity, so never here in Colorado where things are just too dry. :) They are so amazing!

  5. Jeff Smith says:

    That is amazing Dori I’ve never seen any thing like that before!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Jeff!

      Isn’t it funny that when I was out in the pasture taking pictures I thought of you??? I thought, “Jeff would be out here with his camera taking thousands of pictures at amazing angles”! They truly are magical little miracles of God’s work.

      Love you huge, sweet brother of mine!

      – Dori –

      P.S. Do you know how much I love it that you read my blog posts?! :-)

  6. Nanette Boots says:

    Your photos of the Frost Flowers are beautiful. Isn’t it wonderful that you can move to a new area and have something so unique!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Nanette,

      I think moving to Tennessee has been such an awesome experience for us – even in the beginning when the changes were very hard there was always new and positive things. And Ice has been so new and interesting to me. Not just these gorgeous Frost Flowers but the ice in the trees is so incredible. I’d never seen that before moving here to the South. Thank you for writing!

      – Dori –

  7. marge hofknecht says:

    Thank you so much for sharing these photos. I’ve never heard of frost flowers. God’s world is so incredible. Did you see the full moon last night? I just can’t seem to get enough of a look of our beautiful moon when it’s full.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Marge,

      I think there are so many amazing things in nature that sometimes it seems God made just for our pleasure; I certainly strive to love and appreciate every bit of it. And that moon???? YES! It was so gorgeous! :-)

      – Dori –

  8. Marilyn Collins says:

    I do not know what that is,but they look like Angel hair. Thanks for the photos.
    Marilyn

  9. Nancy says:

    THAT is sooooo cool. And I thought one inch ice on the water dishes was cool when the temperatures dipped. You definitely have a neat sign of winter is coming!!!!!
    Nancy from Ontario.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Nancy,

      Winter has always been something I’ve not looked forward to… but I do notice that this year I’ve tried to look at it from a different perspective and these Frost Flowers are definitely helping that! :-)

      – Dori –

  10. Nicole Christensen says:

    Hi Dori,
    What a great post! I have never seen them (that I can recall) and certainly haven’t noticed them. They are beautiful! Are you getting them now? Our temperature this week got so very warm. We were trying to decorate yesterday for Christmas and I was in a summer t-shirt! A year ago we were F-R-E-E-Z-I-N-G! It was like spring. I know it won’t last long though! Thanks for teaching me something new. I will be on the lookout for frost flowers from now on. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole (Suburban Farmgirl)

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Nicole!

      Yes, we are getting them now. And it has something to do with it not being really that cold yet… just below freezing on the ground but yet warm enough within the grass that it doesn’t freeze. And there also has to be humidity. So it is a tricky phenomena! And as soon as it gets where we are getting deep freezes then we won’t get them until next year! :-)

      We have been having some really warm days, but that is actually fairly normal for us. Our Thanksgivings are usually nice enough to play volleyball outside after our big lunch!

      Today I’m working on building some wooden snowmen with my grand-girls today and it is quite warm here too! :-)

      Hugs,

      – Dori –

  11. Linda Lockwood says:

    Hi Dori,
    I so enjoyed your photos and article about the frost flowers!
    I’m 60+ and have never heard of these flowers.
    Your writings are always very interesting!
    Thank you!
    Linda

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Linda,

      Thank you! I will have to admit here that writing about the Frost Flowers was ALL my husband’s idea! :-)

      – Dori –

  12. Krista says:

    Wow! These frost flowers are so beautiful. I have never seen them before or even heard of them. They remind me of angel hair. I would love to see some of these in real life! Thank you for sharing this beautiful piece of nature and finding out what they really are!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Krista,

      Aren’t they amazing? I’m starting to feel very privileged that we have them on our farm as it seems that even some of our closest neighbors don’t get them on their farms. Interesting isn’t it?

      – Dori –

  13. Wayve says:

    Dori, I love this! I only live 10 miles from you and I’ve never seen these. When we moved here, people talked about the ground “spewing up”, which turned out to be ice needles, but ice flowers are new to me. I wonder if it has to do with the higher altitude of your property. Thanks for sharing.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Wayve,

      I wonder if the altitude could be part of it because come to think of it, we only seem to see them on the hillsides. Never in our lower hay pasture. Hmmm. I wonder. Glad you asked your Daddy about it too!

      Hugs,

      – Dori –

      P.S. I canned the tomatoes when they ripened and we are eating the last of your amazing red bell peppers, those were incredible. I froze pumpkin from 10 of the pumpkins and the others I put in our tornado shelter to stay cool until I can get to them. Thank you again!!! :-) I’ll get over there soon to return your bucket and box!

  14. Wayve says:

    Daddy said he’s never seen anything like that, either, and he’s 90!

  15. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I have never seen these tissue flowers but they are absolutely stunning! Wow, the close up photos are just incredible. What a beautiful gift to your farm from Mother Nature to someone who had been growing bundles of bright and lovely flowers only a few months before and was feeling a bit sad to see the season end!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Winnie,

      What a wonderful way with words you have… just warmed my heart! I’ve been wondering why it is that in the 4 winters we’ve been here, I haven’t fully appreciated the Frost Flowers. And I think it comes from the fact that when our summer growing season was over and I was heading drudgingly into Fall and Winter I gave myself a very stern talking to and decided that I would do everything I could to find the beauty in the coming seasons. And these Frost Flowers certainly are beautiful. And I’m realizing we are definitely lucky to have them! :-)

      – Dori –

  16. Marcie says:

    Hi Dori,
    I have to say “WOW”, it grows here – I’m definitely getting some for my Tennessee yard. What you have is called “Frostweed” – check it out at this site – http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=VEVI3
    this is from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower center in Austin. We had this back in central Texas and I love it. I would post some of my photos if I could. In the late summer the stalks grow pretty white flowers that the Monarch and other butterflies love and depend on during their migration and in the winter the sap freezes and the stalks split open and the sap looks like beautiful swirling ribbons.

    We retired to NE Tennessee from Texas and I have wanted some Frostweed and Elbow bush since we got here but was not sure it would grow here (don’t know about the Elbow bush yet), but now I know the Frostweed will. Trust me girl, you have a keeper of plants and they’re native.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Marcie,

      WOW!!!!! I cannot believe the info that you shared with us. We read the link you included and now I am so interested in the Frostweed that does seem to be where the Frost Flowers form. That makes sense on why it only occurs in certain places on our farm… and those are the same places that it occurs every winter. It is so interesting. We are going to pay more attention to those areas in the summer to see if the native grass looks different.

      Thank you so much for the info! It was super exciting to read!

      – Dori –

  17. Meredith Williams says:

    I have never had the good fortune to see a frost flower but I will look for them from now on! Lovely photographs!

  18. Debbie says:

    Well, I must say that seeing your Frost Flowers is a first for me too. Such a perfect name for a flower farmgirl like you! I love that! Your captures of them are amazing… they remind me a little of the inside of the plant milk weed, minus the seeds… So soft, white and airy looking! I can relate to discovering things about a new place too and those first difficult adjustments. Mother Nature can always find a way to delight us in unexpected ways. Thanks for sharing your hilltop frost flowers with all of us. They are magical… So fitting for the season.
    Big hugs!
    Deb ( Beach Farmgirl )

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Thank you Deb,

      You should’ve heard me laugh when I finally stumbled on their official name. It just seemed so fun to think that I still have flowers on the farm! :-)

      Now we’ve been having a lot of rain and really warm temperatures with it so haven’t seen any more Frost Flowers… probably won’t again until next year. The conditions have to be exactly right for them to form.

      Happy December, Deb!

      – Dori –

  19. denise says:

    I hear people talk about hoarfrost, could that be what that is?

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Denise,

      No… we have hoarfrost usually in the winter and it doesn’t look quite like this. Hoar frost (at least here in Tennessee) comes when it is bitter cold and freezing solid. These Frost Flowers only occur when it is mildly freezing. I will say, though, that Hoar Frost is absolutely gorgeous too.

      Thanks for writing!

      – Dori –

  20. Jeannie says:

    We enjoy Hoar Frost here in Wisconsin on foggy mornings in fall, winter and spring. and I love taking photographs before the sun melts it away. I couldn’t find a way to attach some of last spring’s beautiful scenes.

    It would be great to see the Frost Flowers and have that chance to capture their beauty.

    Thank you for sharing this new phenomenon with us!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Jeannie,

      Last year we had Hoar Frost on our trees and it was just magical. First time I had ever seen it.

      Thank you for writing! Oh, and I’d love to see some of your Hoar Frost photo’s. Email them to me: redfeedsack@gmail.com

      – Dori –

  21. Lizvc says:

    We have Frost Flowers in our Missouri woods. I was blown away the first time I saw them. Great photos!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Liz,

      Did you know they were called Frost Flowers and do other people in your area have them? I’ve been shocked when I talk to locals around here that no one has seen them. And if they have, they just say “oh those little ice things”?! :-) I just think they are amazing.

      Thank you also for the link. Headed to look at it right now!

      Thanks for writing and sharing.

      – Dori –

      • Lizvc says:

        We saw them on a hike in Pickle Springs Natural Area 5 or 6 years ago in November. I only knew that was what they were called because I looked them up after we saw them. I have lived in Missouri on wooded land for 60 years and that is the only time I or my husband have seen them. They are truly awesome looking!

        • Dori Troutman says:

          I had to look up Pickle Springs on internet – I’ve never heard of it before! It’s gorgeous!!!!

        • Dori Troutman says:

          I forgot to tell you that my husband and I loved the link you sent. Great information!

  22. Joan says:

    WOW Dori, your pictures are spectacular and the information is so good to hear. When I was growing up on a farm in Nebraska 1940’s – 60’s – we had them but of course we didn’t have the internet to investigate. I love the name – we just called the ‘ice pods’, my Grandfather said they had been there all his life so they were a natural happening. Thanks so much for this great post – always something interesting to read. We did have a grateful Thanksgiving and hope you did too. What’s the quilt you are starting? Merry Christmas and God bless.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Thank you Joan!

      My plan for a quilt is not at all set yet! I’m struggling with patterns and fabric. I want to make two quilts to fold at the end of the twin beds in my guest bedroom. Not full size, just the perfect size for unfolding to nap under or just a little extra warmth at night. And to pretty up the bedroom of course! :-) I’ve quilted quite a bit in my life on small projects and made a few large quilts from start to finish. But it has been years, so I’m kind of excited to get started! I’ll keep you posted!

      – Dori –

  23. Forgetmenot says:

    I’ve never heard of nor seen ice flowers! They are just beautiful! Thank you for sharing. Still learning something new every day.

  24. JennJenn Buffington says:

    ………………Just WOW!!!!! Lovely!

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