Ice storm leaves 'ghost apples' hanging from Michigan trees

The polar vortex that plunged parts of the U.S. into a deep freeze last week produced a stunning sight at an orchard in Kent County, Michigan.

Andrew Sietsema, who works as a farm manager and studied horticulture at Michigan State University, told AccuWeather that he was pruning apple trees in an icy orchard on Feb. 6 when he came across a phenomenon dubbed "ghost apples."

While distinctly shaped like apples, these formations, which are typically found hanging from tree branches, are completely devoid of the fruit’s peel, core or flesh.

Frigid weather leaves 'ghost apples' hanging from Michigan trees
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Frigid weather leaves 'ghost apples' hanging from Michigan trees
Photo credit: Andrew Seitsema/Facebook
Photo credit: Andrew Seitsema/Facebook
Photo Credit: Andrew Seitsema/Facebook

The phenomenon occurs when a winter storm coats unpicked apples in a hard, icy shell. The apple then turns to mush, which drains out of the ice encasement when the tree is moved or shaken, leaving behind an eerie "ghost apple."

"I guess it was just cold enough that the ice covering the apple hadn’t melted yet, but it was warm enough that the apple inside turned to complete mush (apples have a lower freezing point than water)," Sietsema told AccuWeather.

"When I pruned a tree it would be shaken in the process, and the mush would slip out of the bottom of the ghost apple," he added. "Most apples just fell off, ice and all. But quite a few would leave a cool ghost apple behind."

So far, Sietsema's mesmerizing photos have been shared over 11,000 times. 

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