Cold Weather Brings Rare Blossoms Of Frost Flowers To Oklahoma

Tuesday, December 3rd 2013, 12:05 pm
By: Richard Clark

Another crop of rare "flowers" has bloomed in Oklahoma, thanks to the changing weather.

They're called frost flowers, but they're not really flowers.

They're ice crystals caused by a combination of factors that have to be just right, which is why they're a rare and almost magical sight.

John Holden saw several in his backyard in Chouteau last week. He shared a photo on the share page.

"I was looking out across my backyard on a cold morning and noticed several white ‘puffs' of something that just didn't quite register. Some were standing 6" above the ground, they seemed odd enough to me to go investigate and as I came up on them I could not quite explain what I was seeing. Paper-thin flows of striped bands that formed white, bow-like shapes. My first thought was that the pattern resembled that of ribbon candy," he wrote in an email.

Steve Russell, of Tulsa, shared photographs of frost flowers he took near Tahlequah.

"We found these Thanksgiving morning in the woods near Tahlequah. They were protruding from flower stalks. The air temperature was in the mid 20's and there was frost on surfaces," he said.

Frost flowers usually appear only in the late fall, when the air temperature is below freezing but the ground is still soft.

The last time News On 6 posted a story about them was in December of 2011.

12/8/2011: Related Story: Oklahoma Weather Conditions Ripe For Blooms Of 'Frost Flowers'

Back then Diana Lance, a master gardener with the Oklahoma State University Extension Office in Tulsa, told us they appear when the moisture in plant stems expands as it freezes, forcing its way out of long, thin cracks and forming a ribbon of ice.

The ribbons curl, creating the appearance of a translucent or white flower, hence the name.

Sometimes the ice is called "frost beard" because it grows out of pores and forms strings that resemble hair. 

Frost flowers are usually visible only in the early morning because they melt quickly and can even sublimate, which means to become water vapor directly, when sunlight hits them.

If you're lucky enough to find frost flowers, you can handle them but they're very delicate. The best way to enjoy them may be to take photos. If you do, please share them with us by sending them to