Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Wool Sower Gall

As our habitat garden has grown, there have been new discoveries to be made everyday. Yesterday Mr. Southern Meadows found a weird growth on one of the white maple trees. Was it a fungus, cocoon, gall or something else? It is about the size of a ping pong ball and looks like a cotton ball with pinkish spots. It is spongy but solid. It could almost be a flower as they are located at the end of the branches. Any guesses?

Southern Meadows

An internet search reveled that it is a gall specific to white oak trees and only found in spring. According the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Department of Entomology, this wool sower gall (sometimes called the oak seed gall) is caused by secretions of grubs of a small gall wasp, Callirhytis seminator. They lay their eggs in winter and the eggs hatch as new leaves appear on the tree in spring. Chemical secretions from the young grubs stimulate the plant to develop the gall tissue which provides protection to the developing larva and nourishing food.

Southern Meadows

If one pulls the gall apart (which we did not do) it would reveal seed-like structures. The gall wasps develop inside these structures. Apparently they are never enough numbers to do any harm to the oak trees. We only found two galls on one of our trees. I think parasitic wasps are so incredibly fascinating. They often have pretty complex life-cycles and have co-evolved with their hosts. To see a photo of the parasitic wasp click here.

Have you ever found a gall in your garden?

16 comments:

  1. I don't think I have ever found a gall of that kind in my garden. Very interesting to read about it though!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I saw one the other day - they are so pretty, aren't they?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I found 3 on my tree today the hot pink on the white fluffy ball is breath taking i was scared tho touch them afraid they might sting me lol

      Delete
  3. What a clever protection for the young gall wasps! It really looks like a flower.

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a fascinating structure! And it's actually beautiful. I've seen galls before, but never one like that. As long as it doesn't cause much damage, I guess it's there for you to study and appreciate. :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've seen big hard galls but never one so cool looking! It looks a bit alien. Very smart to protect one's young in such an excellent structure. :o)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Woah, kind of weird looking, but kind of pretty too! Fascinating! At least it won't be very harmful!

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is why I love to garden for wildlife...such cool stuff you find every day. Outstanding!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. That is a fantastic discovery for you to take nice photos of! Thanks for the information too. I suddenly remember the balls that compete with blocks in my Pet Rescue Saga games, haha!

    ReplyDelete
  9. So good of you to investigate. Wasps are such voracious predators and garden helpers, it was a good find. Think how many would not look this up and some, even destroy a tree for it?

    ReplyDelete
  10. How cool! It looks pretty, is it as soft as it looks? As long as it doesn’t harm the tree you can just enjoy having something unusual on your tree :-)

    ReplyDelete
  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  12. What a clever protection for the young gall wasps! It really looks like a flower.
    you can check that aweome thread about ginger from here فوائد الزنجبيل

    فوائد الزعتر

    ReplyDelete
  13. We found several of these on oak saplings in a park in Warwick, Rhode Island this morning. Had no idea what they were... Thanks for identifying them!

    ReplyDelete

"Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your soul"

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment...I love hearing from you!