Friday, May 14, 2010

It's Just Galling!

This is one of my favorite periodic occurrences because it is just so strange. The cedar trees which, for most of the year have unremarkable brown growths on their branches, suddenly look as though they're carrying bright orange, slimy pompoms. And right now, they look like their game got rained out, because the recent rain has bogged down the usual gelatinous koosh-ball appearance of them. They are cedar-apple rust galls, but these galls are a totally different animal than the goldenrod and oak galls about which I wrote in the fall. Actually, these galls aren't an animal at all. But they are still called a gall because they, like the insect galls, cause the plant itself to form growths of its own tissue. Technically, cedar-apple rust galls are a pest and bad, but I think they are fascinating. This orange phenophase is when the rust is sending out spores into the wind... where they land on an apple (or similar) tree and infect it. On these hosts, they cause bright orange leaf spots, and eventually, later in summer, they also bear spores, which in turn land on cedar trees and cause their branch growths. Quite a life cycle!

Also just starting to bloom:
cream indigo, and
bladder campion.

In sad (for Naomi) news... some of my carefully cultivated Jewelweeds have bitten the dust. This is through no fault of their own, or nature, or me... I have these neighbor kids. They are nice, curious, and sometimes mischievous children. They play outside a lot (of which I approve). They play in my yard more often than I'd approve of, especially on the day when one of them ate a poisonous jack in the pulpit berry because it "looked like red corn"... but that's another story for another day. Anyhow, we've had many chats about not stepping on plants. Well, yesterday, the area between our two houses was a lake from all the water, and on my side of the lake is where the jewelweeds grow among the daylilies. They were playing in the lake with boats or somesuch and needed to go on my side. The daylilies are quite large, the jewelweeds still small spindly things... so they very carefully stepped around all the daylilies. They were actually so proud of themselves they called me over. "Look, Ms. Naomi, we didn't step on any of the plants!" Well, OK... but these little ones were plants, too and you stepped all over them! I did show them; we'll see if it still happens again. Anyhow, I hope the remaining ones will spread a lot of seeds again, and eventually... those kids will grow up.


  1. We had a super year here for Apple Cedar Rust Gall. I've had dozens brought to my office for identification. It's amazing what some people will do to protect themselves from perceived contamination. One woman brought in a box from which she removed a softball sized lump of plastic wrap. She proceeded to unwrap layer after layer of plastic until she revealed a baby food jar containing the gall.

  2. I, on the other hand, got slimed by one as I was taking a picture of another. It was like apricot jam. (In texture and color, I did not taste.)

  3. I recently have offered to help in a small orchard and was able to find cedar apple rust galls dormant on the cedar. In order to prevent the life cycle to continue and infect the apples can i remove the galls safetly from the cedar in order to prevent the infection of my apples. Last year we lost the entire crop.