Rare frost flowers bloom in South Mississippi

Rare frost flowers bloom in South Mississippi

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Frigid temperatures are not only causing pipes to burst in homes across south Mississippi, but they also causing the "pipes" in plants to freeze and burst as well.

Frost flowers "bloom" when the air temperature is below freezing, but the ground stays above freezing and is moist. Water and sap in the plant's stem freezes, expands, and causes the stem to burst – similar to how ice build up causes water pipes to burst.

The roots in the ground continue to pull up moisture to the rest of the plant, but the sap and water continue to seep out of the cracks and freezes. The end result are delicate ribbons of ice that sometimes look like flower petals.

These intricate pieces of woven ice have popped up in parts of south Mississippi during this recent cold blast.

A similar phenomenon, known as needle ice , has also been spotted. This happens when the air above the ground is freezing and the soil remains unfrozen. Moisture in the ground is pulled up to the surface through capillary action and it freezes. As more water is pulled to the surface , it pushes the ice out and creates tiny needles of ice that look like ice pillars to stick out of the soil.

Eric Jeansonne
WLOX Meteorologist 

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