Frost beard in Cumbernauld

Sometimes you find beauty in the strangest places. Last Sunday was spent out with the Nature Ninja Volunteers at St Maurice’s Pond, removing invasive rhododendron and litter picking.

St Maurice’s Pond itself is a beautiful place but you don’t normally get the best view of it while patrolling with a bin bag. On this occasion keeping our eyes to the ground paid off, and we came across some amazing silky white frost beards.

Frost beards are created when water is forced out from inside pieces of fallen dead wood. They are quite rare and many people will live around woodlands all their lives and never see one. For some reason they actually seem to be relatively common in Cumbernauld.

In order to form they need a precise combination of wood type, ground and air temperature and humidity.

In the last few years scientists have discovered it also requires a very specific type of fungus called Exidiopsis effusa which shapes the ice into precise hair thin, silky filaments each just 0.01mm wide as it ‘grows’.

Frost beards are incredibly delicate and rarely last long as the slightest exposure to sunlight quickly melts them. There was time to take a few photographs of this specimen but it was already beginning to disappear.

I felt incredibly privileged to be granted the opportunity to see such a beautiful wonder of nature – one of those magical moments which seem to happen so often when out in Cumbernauld’s woods.

Have you found unexpected beauty in Cumbernauld’s wild places this winter? Please share your photos on the Cumbernauld Living Landscape Facebook page.

Paul Barclay, Community Networks Officer

Paul Barclay