The cold is starting to settling in here in The Mitten and with it brings some of the coolest natural phenomenon you may have never seen before!

How much do you know of a unique phenomenon called "frost flowers"?

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I've heard of ice wine, but I've never heard the term "frost flowers" or "ice flowers" used before-- until now.

I was recently scrolling through Facebook when I saw a friend of mine inquiring about some strange looking layers of frost that had appeared in her back yard. Apparently it's a cool and rare weather phenomenon, but is it possible to see these flowers in Michigan?

What Are Frost Flowers?

According to the National Weather Service frost flowers,

...are thin layers (perhaps credit card thickness) of ice that are extruded through slits from the stems of white or yellow wingstem plants...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.

Yes, this is a once per year phenomenon!

michigan frost flower
Keith Dotson Photography via YouTube
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How Are They Formed?

Typically, on the first good frost of the year, ground water from the stems of these plants is pushed up from the ground as it freezes. The water then pushes through the stem as it expands, freezing when it comes in contact with the cold air.

This process happens multiple times over until ribbons of frost begin to form a "flower." However, you have to be pretty quick to catch them because as soon as daylight hits the frost disappears and you're unlikely to see it again for another year!

This has got to be the coolest thing I've never heard of. Have you ever seen frost flowers firsthand?

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