Drunken tree

CHURCHILL, Manitoba (29 July 1994) -- The periodic freezing and melting of water in the upper layer of soil can disrupt the growth of plants. As water freezes, it expands and forces soil upward, leading to a condition known as frost heave. As it melts, it can leave a damp cavity in the ground.

The trunks of trees such as spruce normally grow straight up, but when frost heave tilts the stem for a period of time, the trunk curves as the apical (top) buds try to resume vertical growth. In time, the trunk takes on a curved appearance, such as in the spruce at right. Areas heavily affected by frost heave have stems tilted every which way; those trees are called "drunken" trees.

Drunken tree

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