Ice hair - a stunning forest sight in wintry weather

Despite living in the countryside for most of my life, until today, I’d never seen, or even heard of Ice Hair (or hair ice)…it’s absolutely stunning…

It is essentially ice that forms long hair-like strands out of wood, eg on fallen branches on the floor of broadleaf forests, when the temperature drops to freezing. From a distance it looks like snow on those branches. For those who’ve never seen it, here is a link

We are lucky enough to live alongside a vast beech forest here in Normandy, and clumps of ice hair are evident today with the low temperatures.


It’s like a deep-frozen long-haired guinea pig


… one of Andy Warhol’s wigs!


Now that you mention it…

If you ice hair, go to the Artic Circle, don’t dry your hair properly after showering, get dressed and quickly run outside for instant Ice Hair.

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Yes, we got excited too the first time we saw it, lovely stuff. Now we know the precise conditions it likes we can identify good ice hair hunting mornings - we’ve never found any that hangs around to the afternoon,


“Home made” hair ice?!

Purely by way of experiment, ie to see if we could recreate hair ice in our garden, we took a few fallen twigs from the nearby beech forest. Those twigs had been in contact with larger branches that had displayed hair ice,(ie contain the specific fungus responsible for the phenomenon) during the last icy period. Knowing there was a series of cold nights coming our way, I drenched the twigs with water yesterday, and then let nature take its course overnight. Hair ice duly appeared on the twigs this morning…

Here’s a photo of one we made earlier! No twigs or fungi were harmed in the making of this experiment…



That’s ice hair on a bad hair day! If you compare with my photo you can see it’s more clumpy than hairy, and doesn’t seem to have the delicacy of ice hair so I’m not sure your experiment worked. Try it again with any old stick of organic stuff and see if you get the same?

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Judging from a walk through the forest this morning, after a hard frost overnight, we noticed that many of the fallen twigs and branches contained hair ice that you accurately describe as a resembling a ‘bad hair’ day, and others had the very fine strands of ‘hair’ in your photo. Yet others had both fine strands, and the bad hair in the same twig, as does the example in our garden (though my photo possibly may not do it justice!). I suspect this is as good as I am going to get with my experiment…I’m happy enough with it.