While walking through the reserve this week I had spotted several clumps of what like like white silky hair growing out of dead wood, both on trees and on the forest floor which I assumed to be a form of fungi that I had not seen before. Upon returning to the office I looked this up in all our fungi reference books, but could find nothing like it. When I asked Steve about it he informed me that this phenomina was actually the result of ice forming within the dead wood!
Known as hair ice or frost beard, this is created by freezing water being pushed out of the pores of dead deciduous wood and forming thin hair like strings of ice. The water is pushed out as a result of respiration of the fungi living in the dead wood. Hair ice is usually only seen on very cold mornings before the sun has melted it, but since the gorge on the resevere is so sheltered the hair ice formations have survived the whole day! If you are visiting the reserve keep an eye out for this pretty winter wonder!
Bye for now!
Alex Kekewich – Assistant Ranger at Falls of Clyde