Frost Flowers 'bloom’ in Missouri

Frost Flowers 'bloom’ in Missouri
The 'flowers’ are a bit of a mystery. Scientists don’t know why only certain plants are able to produce them. (Photo by MDC Staff, courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation.) (Source: Photo by MDC Staff, courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation.)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KFVS) -A breed of winter “flower” is growing in Kansas City, Missouri.

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, frost flowers are "ribbons of ice that form around the bases of specific wildflower stems" when there's a sharp drop in temperatures.

Conservation officials said when the plants’ stems are ruptured by the first hard freeze of the year, the root system is still sending up plant sap from the warmer ground.

This pushes sap through the broken stem and freezes it on contact with the cold air.

Officials explained, as more saps moves up, it forces the freezing stream of white ice crystals into ribbons that look like petals, puffs of cotton candy or snarls of white thread.

Frost flowers are not actually flowers at all. (Photo by MDC Staff, courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation.)
Frost flowers are not actually flowers at all. (Photo by MDC Staff, courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation.) (Source: MDC Staff)

Frost flowers bloomed on Friday, Nov. 8 at an outdoor garden in Kansas City operated by the MDC.

For more information on frost flowers, visit https://short.mdc.mo.gov/ZdH.

The 'flowers’ are a bit of a mystery. Scientists don’t know why only certain plants are able to produce them.

Missouri plants known to produce frost flowers include dittany (Cunila origanoides), stinkweed (Pluchea camphorata, which is not widespread in Missouri), and white crownbeard (Verbesina virginica).

Scientists believe these plants have root systems that are more active later in the year than other species, or their stems rupture in just the right way to force the ribbons of sap.

The agency said people who hunt or hike in November are likely to see frost flowers.

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