Frost Flowers A Frozen Phenomenon, Thanks To Cold Temperatures

Posted: 8:06 AM, Jan 04, 2018
Updated: 2018-01-04 09:11:50-05

Cold temperatures can mean beautiful winter landscapes. Each one is different and the conditions have to be just right.

These days, frost flowers blanket the grounds of the Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro. 

"The air temperature has to be below freezing, but the ground can't be frozen," said Jo Wheeler with the National Park Services. 

They are often times misidentified as common trash.

"We have recently had a lot of people just walking around, asking what these are and a lot of people confuse them for litter," said Wheeler. 

Wheeler is new to the area. She works as an intern at the national park. 

"I was actually giving a talk and I looked over and thought 'What is that trash?' So I walked closer and then I thought 'what is this,'" she said. 

Curling and swirling, the frost flowers are formed when very thin layers of ice are pushed from the stems of plants.

The results are frozen works of art.

"The whole frost flower thing is a defense mechanism for the plants. It keeps them from freezing and essentially killing the plant," she said. 

Even Tennessee natives are confused by the natural occurrence.

David and Joan McRay said this is the first year they've seen them.

"My daughter was just home for the holidays and she thought someone had toilet papered the park," he said. 

If you want to see these temporary sculptures, park officials said do it before they melt away.

Officials also ask park visitors to look and not touch and to stay ont he path. 

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