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Polar Vortex Creates Bizarre ‘Ghost Apples’ That The Internet Can’t Take Its Eye Away From

The winter of 2019 brought a polar vortex to many parts of the U.S. At a Michigan apple orchard, the extremely cold temperatures hit apple trees hard. Farm manager Andrew Sietsema was pruning to repair the damage when he found something unexpectedly beautiful.

Nature’s Icy Sculpture

Sietsema found a phenomenon he called ghost apples. Naturally created and resembling something from a glass blower’s studio, they are the result of an ice storm that covered the fruit. As temperatures began to warm quickly after the storm, the acid in the apples allowed them to thaw sooner than the ice.


Sietsma shook the trees as he pruned and the motion caused some of the fruit to drop off the tree entirely. In other cases, only the mush dropped to the ground. A crystalline shape of an apple remained on the branch.

Beautiful Photos

Sietsma’s photos of the icy apple shells took the internet by storm. Jokes, amazement, and cultural references filled the comment threads on social media posts.

Bored Panda

Many can’t take their eyes away from the pictures. Experts say that this can only happen with very specific circumstances and won’t reoccur frequently. The public should feel free to view them while they can.

Ghost Apples Plentiful In Michigan

The orchard Sietsema worked in wasn’t the only one with ghost apples. Many of the region’s orchards that had unharvested apples experienced it. Other unharvested fruit didn’t necessarily yield the same results. Apples are unique in terms of their thawing temperature. Unlike other fruits, it has to get extremely cold for an apple to freeze as solidly as the ice around it.

Flickr_Jerene Rauckman

Fluctuating temperatures could be the cause. In Michigan, icy, arctic weather was often quickly followed by warmer temps. The rapid change was ideal for the thawing process needed to create the clear shapes.

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