This ‘hair ice’ phenomena was found on a B.C. tree and it looks magical

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hair ice
Ice hair on a dead branch / Shutterstock

While it may look like something out of a fairytale, ‘hair ice’ is a fairly common occurrence across the world. What’s more, the whimsical manifestation happens a great deal in our own backyard.

Not only do British Columbian forests reach the cold temperatures necessary for it to form, but they also have a vast number of trees that support its growth.

The fine, silky ice only forms on decaying or dead wood, and only on particular broadleaf trees. B.C. forests are home to a great deal of deciduous trees that fall into this category, such as maple, cottonwood, and oak.

What’s more, Aloutte Parks Management, Park Operator for Golden Ears and Rolley Lake Provincial Parks, shared a captivating image of the phenomena on their Instagram account.

“We got lots of comments about this “hair ice” in our story today. It forms on moist dead wood from broadleaf trees when temperatures are slightly below freezing,” reads the post.

“Each of the hairs is only about 0.02mm in diameter, and they can last hours or days. It is believed that a fungus in the decaying wood is responsible for the formation of the hairs!”

Vancouver Is Awesome spoke to Stu Burgess, Operations Manager, Alouette Park Management, who told us about how he came across the spellbinding spectacle.

“Hair ice actually happens quite a bit – it can be found all across the forest. It just has to reach the cold temperatures necessary for it to form,” explained Burgess.

“The ice is so beautiful – each strand is completely separate. I found this particular example when I walked just off of the main road about 20 metres into the wood. It is probably the most intricate and breathtaking one that I have seen yet.”

When asked what happens if you touch it, Burgess replied that, “It simply just breaks apart – it is so delicate.”

hair ice
Mysterious Hair ice / Shutterstock

First written about by Alfred Wegener in 1918, the phenomena may also occur on plant stems and produce ‘ice flowers,’ describes Dr. James R. Carter, Professor Emeritus Geography, Geology Department, Illinois State University in an article. And, when it occurs on small rocks, it is referred to as ‘pebble ice.’