British Columbia: What is this forest floor growth ?

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by vicarious1, Jan 21, 2011.

  1. vicarious1

    vicarious1 Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi happy 21011. Question:

    We saw this beginning January on many branches on the forest floor around Deer Lake on an afternoon walk. Ambient temperature -5C.
    What is it ? Moss, fungus. It was stunningly white and looked like frozen moss.
    When touched with a stick the consistency was a bit spongy like marshmallow. Stunning structure with the Macro.
     

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  2. togata57

    togata57 Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    Whoa! If the consistency was more fragile, might be the phenomenon known as 'frost flower'.
    Beautiful find...looks like part of a bird, or maybe a cattail. Feather duster?

    Good to hear from you, vicarious!
     
  3. ssi gardener

    ssi gardener Active Member

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    Hi Vicarious, Togata has it right. Just googled frost flowers and wikipedia has photos pretty much like that and a good explanation. We've seen them here on Salt Spring Island with first frost and we've also often wondered what these beautiful things are. Thanks Togata, for putting us on to it. Lynetta
     
  4. vitog

    vitog Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Vicarious1, you should have tried to pick that object up with your bare hands. It would have melted immediately and you would have realized that it was water. These frost flowers are common in our wet forests whenever the temperature drops below freezing. The ice crystals typically ooze out of dead branches in the curved manner shown in your photo. They are especially abundant where the air is moist as well as cold, such as valley bottoms near streams. When conditions were right, we used to take the family out to the trail below the falls in Lynn Canyon Park in North Vancouver. The frost flowers added a beautiful touch to the winter scenery.
     
  5. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

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    Very cool! vicarious1, you said it was spongy. I thought ice crystals would shatter on contact, not be spongy. Learned something new.
     
  6. vicarious1

    vicarious1 Active Member 10 Years

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    Well I pocked small sticks into it and it did not crumble rather like pushing a cooking spoon into a pudding. Now I will look out and go closer with the macro on our next ice flower chase.
     
  7. ssi gardener

    ssi gardener Active Member

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    Hello Fellow 'ice flower' fans I also thought it was something growing. I too poked a stick into it, not wanting to grab something which I thought might be 'toxic'. I too found that it was rather spongy. It occurred to me at the time that it might be something like hoar frost, but it didn't act like that. Didn't do any research on it at the time, thinking a bit of a beautiful mystery added a little something extra to our garden milieu. Science tends to somewhat flatten our flights of fancy and bring them down to earth with a bang. Please carry on with the closer macro, Vicarious, and put it online. Great photo! We'll maybe get to the 'pith' of it yet. Lynetta
     
  8. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    How about posting your question on the Fungi, Lichens and Slime Molds Identification & Appreciation forum?
     
  9. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Sundrop, there are a number of similar posts in the Fungus / Lichen ID forum from previous years.
     
  10. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    What is the answer there, Daniel?
     
  11. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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  12. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    It seems to me, we all agree that the object on the picture looks similar to frost flowers on the wiki page. But there is more:
    wiki: The petals of frost flowers are very delicate and will break when touched.
    vicarious: When touched with a stick the consistency was a bit spongy like marshmallow. and Well I pocked small sticks into it and it did not crumble rather like pushing a cooking spoon into a pudding.
    wiki: They usually melt or sublimate when exposed to sunlight and are usually visible in the early morning or in shaded areas."
    vicarious: We saw this beginning January on many branches on the forest floor around Deer Lake on an afternoon walk.

    I've never heard of ice being spongy, but I am thinking, may be there was something in the sap that caused sponginess. Is it possible? But at least the object should melt when exposed to temperature above zero.
    When you see a thing like this next time, vicarious, may be you could take it home to see how it will behave. And let us know.
     

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