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Infrared video thermography was used to study space and time dependence of freezing in intact, attached leaves of snow gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora Sieb. ex Spreng.) seedlings. Freezing initiated in the midvein and spread through the apoplast at 10 mm s-1. Freezing of apoplastic water was detected by a local, rapid increase in temperature, and was followed by a slower increase in leaf temperature to the equilibrium freezing temperature as symplastic water moved from cells to extracellular sites of ice formation. The duration of freezing varied with position, leaf thickness and water content. Most of the cellular water in the leaf tip and margins froze quickly, while freezing was slower near the petiole and midvein. Regions that had frozen more rapidly then began to cool more rapidly, producing steep gradients in leaf temperatures and hence also freeze-induced dehydration. Thus, spatial variation in physical properties of leaves could affect the distribution of minimum leaf temperatures, and hence, the distribution and extent of damage due to freeze-induced dehydration. These results are consistent with patterns of freezing damage in autumn when the duration of freezing may be insufficient for the whole leaf to freeze before sunrise, and may explain the general observation of increased leaf water content and thickness with altitude.