If you are fortunate to live near a forest, make sure to keep an eye out for a rare natural sight this week.
Frost flowers have been spotted in Rathmullan Wood this morning during the cold snap.
The structure, which looks like candy floss on branches, is called hair ice.
It forms from individual strands of frozen water, and melts easily when touched by sunlight.
The strange growth has also appeared in woodlands in Fermanagh and Tyrone this week.
What exactly are they?
According to the National Weather Service, Frost Flowers are thin layers of ice that are extruded through slits from the stems of shrubs and trees. Their formation requires freezing air temperature, soil that is moist or wet but not frozen, and a plant’s stem that has not been previously frozen. The water in the plant’s stem is drawn upward by capillary action from the ground. It expands as it freezes and splits the stem vertically and freezes on contact with the air.
As more water is drawn from ground through the split, it extrudes a paper thin ice layer further from the stem.
The length of the split determines if the frost flower is a narrow or wide ribbon of ice. It curls unpredictably as it is extruded, perhaps from unequal friction along the sides of the split, to form “petals”. These flowers, no two of which are alike, are fragile and last only until they melt.
Have you spotted any on your local walks?Tags: