Do trees freeze?

      The short answer is no; Gene Wengert provides full details. February 13, 2001

I have read in this forum about frozen and partially frozen wood and I don't understand. Do the trees freeze after I fall them or are they frozen now?

Forum Responses
Trees cannot freeze if healthy and above -40 degrees F, roughly.

I suppose it is the sugars that act as antifreeze. The water (actually, the water is really a solution of chemicals) may turn into slush. The secret to not causing damage (most of the time) is that the wood contains a lot of air bubbles. If you took all the air bubbles out of a log, it would be 1.5 times heavier than water! So, as the ice or slush forms and expands as it gets colder (water and ice do this under 3 degrees F), the air bubbles are compressed, allowing room for the "ice" to expand! Neat! Where we get into trouble is when there are no bubbles--sinker logs would be one example and we all know that most sinker logs are worthless.

Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor

Even in the winter, if the tree is still alive, wouldn't there be some metabolic processes going on in the cell that would produce a certain amount of heat?

Perhaps such heat could be measured in a lab, but the chemical reactions (metabolism) would be so slow that the heat would be insignificant. As a rule of thumb, for each 20 degrees F cooler, the reaction rate is one-half as fast.

Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor

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