Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Santa's Beard?

On Christmas Day, Wayne and I went for a quad ride. Our destination was the nearby Blue Trail. Along the way, I saw something very unusual. Periodically, along the side of the trail, I saw what looked like the most amazingly white, fine moss. From the seat of my bike, it looked like pieces of Santa's beard strewn across the forest floor. It was growing on small sticks by the side of the trail and on larger fallen trunks further into the bush. I stopped to take some pictures.

Wayne came up to see what I was doing. He touched the "moss" and said, "Silly, that's just snow." I touched it, and sure enough it was cold and crumbled instantly. It didn't look or feel like snow, what could it be?

When we went to our friends Dave and Marg's house for Christmas dinner, I asked them. They said it was frost and it was found typically on alder sticks and trunks, especially ones that had fallen earlier in the year. Of course, I Googled it when I got home and here is what I found.

I wasn't too far off thinking it looked like Santa's beard. It's called a frost beard. That's a form of a frost flower. Dave told us how water gets under the bark of fallen alder trees and branches. It is then squeezed through the pores in the stick and bark into long thin strings of ice that make it look uncannily like a white beard. Dave says he's only seen in on alder in our area. Here's an interesting video by Country Scientist on YouTube of how frost flowers and beards are formed. I'm just glad it wasn't the result of reindeer gone wild! -- Margy


  1. But reindeer gone wild would have been a lot of fun! Great post!

  2. That is very cool stuff. The video was very intersting I learned something new today. My Photoshop should be here in a day or two I can hardly wait.

  3. I've never heard of frost beard before! How intriguing. I will me on the lookout for it now. :)

    I wish you all the best in 2010!

  4. That is cool! No pun intended. Thanks for the info.

  5. Love the new header photo!