Incredibly rare 'ice hair' phenomenon discovered in remote wood as plunging temperatures spark bizarre creation

Delicate strands of “hair” are formed only when certain enviromental conditions are present and a certain fungi is in the area.

But one eagle-eyed photographer has managed to capture the fine and lace-like ice crystals that formed on a moss-ridden tree branch in Glenlednock, Comrie, Perthshire.

The ice hair only forms when the temperature is between 0.2 and 0.4C, the air has to be humid and a specific fungi is growing to act as a catalyst.

Jaclyn Wilson, 40, from Comrie, captured the rare occurrence on her mobile phone.

She said: “It is very, very fragile. You have got to be very careful as touching or it even breathing on it or it will disappear. I was very excited to see it as it is a phenomenon which is very rare."

Jaclyn shared the pictures to her Facebook page, Whitsnickst Photography, captioned with: ‘Ice Hair’- a type of ice that forms on dead wood and takes the shape of fine silky hair."

Sarah Jane Tainsh commented on Jaclyn's post saying: “Amazing. Looks like Santa’s beard.”

Heather Boyd posted: “Wow. That is amazing never heard of anything like that before.”

Angela Thorne said: “I've never seen anything like this before. Amazing.”

However, the rare ice formation was even mistaken for a living creature.

What is Ice Hair?

Ice hair is essentially a form of frost but has the appearance of candy floss and is highly unusual.

It is found only in a narrow geographical band in the northern hemisphere.

The hair-like strands form from the fungi inside the roots of decaying wood but only when humidity levels are high and temperatures are just above freezing.

The water in the wood gets pushed out slowly, forming the fluffy strands.

They are extremely delicate and simply touching them causes them to dissolve.

While ice hair was first discovered in 1918 its formation had baffled scientists until recently.

A study in 2015 that was published in Biogeosciences found the fungal activity of Exidiopsis effusa was largely responsible for its formation.

Toni Michelle added: “I genuinely thought the first pic was an owl with spread wings. The wood looks like a wee brown face.”

According to the Met Office, the first record of the phenomenon was made by Berliner Alfred Wegener in 1918 – the same man who came up with the theory of continental drift.

He proposed the theory for hair ice after observing the formation occur only on wet dead wood with a specific fungi that helped with the transformation of the ice to a smooth silky hair-like look.

Britain is currently set to freeze as cold air from Iceland is due to sweep in, blasting the UK with winds, fog and snow with temperatures dropping to -5 in some areas, according to the latest forecast.

Earlier this month "ice pancakes" were found floating on the River Helmsdale in Scotland.

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