Plants and Freezing
I'd like to know is it possible to freeze a plant
and revive it? If so, what mechanisms are involved?
While this might be possible with some rare species of plants, in general it
is not viable to do this. When you freeze a plant the water in each of the
cells freezes, which expands and lyses the cell--it basically makes the cell
wall bust open. When this happens to all of the cells in the plant it
withers very quickly and dies because it no longer has any structural
support and cannot segregate the components of each cell as needed.
This is a difficult question because it depends upon the plant, the freezing
temperature, the freezing history (i.e. has the plant had the opportunity to
adapt to colder weather), and a number of other variables. Some plants even
generate their own "antifreeze". There is a very interesting book entitled
"Ice" by Mariana Gosnell that devotes a couple of chapters to the freezing
mechanisms in plants. I think you will find a complete answer to your
It is possible to freeze certain plants that have the capability to
withstand freezing. Often such plants are from temperate climates and
live more than just a single growing season.
Jim Tokuhisa, Ph.D.
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Update: June 2012