Posts Tagged 'trees'

Galls of It All

So it seems we still aren’t quite sure how galls are created. Something irritates a plant; the plant responds by creating a unique growth. The hundreds of species of tiny gall wasps are the best known gall-forcers, but other insects (aphids, mites, others) and some microbial forms do it, too.

But let’s stick with the tiny gall wasps. (This is a simplistic description, go here for more detail.) They lay an egg on the plant’s leaf or stem. The plant responds by growing around the egg or larva which digs into the plant. Each resulting growth, or gall, is unique to the species of gall-making agent that initiates it. It’s a chemical process, a benign hijacking of the plant’s growth. The sphere on the oak above is sort of a highly modified leaf. The insect larva within is protected by this structure from hungry predators (but parasites can still get in). The gall is also food for the larva. The plant doesn’t seem to be harmed. The wasp emerges from the gall to start all over again, sometimes with an intervening stage elsewhere on the same tree.
Here are all my posts on galls over the years. All the galls in this post are on white oaks. Oaks and galls are a time-honored combination. In North America, 800 gall wasp species are associated with oak trees. The first two pictures are of a beautiful spherical gall on a big shaggy specimen. The rest of these examples were found on a much younger tree. In this case, they’d fallen out of the tree.The only ones I can identify for certain are the Hedgehog Galls, made by the Hedgehog Gall Wasp. But is this red one a new Hedgehog or something all together different?

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“The level of disconnection from nature seemed independent of where children lived.” A new study suggests rural and urban American kids get all their nature information from TV, the internet, and those moronic computer games, and they are not the better for it. (Surprise!) Please share your love of the wild — including galls — with your children and grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc. They’re not going to get it anywhere else.

PSA

The serviceberries are ripe.

Cottonwood Air

There was so much Eastern Cotton fluff, it was easy to scoop up a handful off the ground. A single mature Populus deltoides can produce an estimated 40 million seeds in a season. The seed is inside the dried fruit or achene attached to cotton-like filaments that help transport it through the air.Here’s my attempt to photograph the stuff in the air at Bush Terminal Park recently. Cottonwood time is a virtual snow storm.And looking the other way: a thicket of the fast-growing saplings beyond the fence.

Buds



Liriodendron tulipifera.

And something in the Theaceae family…

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As you know, the well of the federal judiciary is being poisoned by reactionary ideologues, shoveled in by Mitch McConnell’s corrupt control of the Senate as part of the culmination of the Federalist Society’s long effort to return control of the law to the corporations and plutocrats, like in the good old days of the 19th century. This article argues that impeachment isn’t the only way of getting these bastards.

Biodiversity Day

Well, the picture of the aphid on the street oak tree leaf that feeds the ladybug was too blurry to use, but you get my drift… . We certainly merit an extra post today for biodiversity.

This is the husk of the larval stage of the Winter Firefly (Pyractomena borealis). As firefly maven Sara Lewis explains, the Pyractomena genus is fairly unusual among the fireflies. Most fireflies pupate underground. Members of this genus crawl up trees and get in the nooks and crannies of the bark to metamorphosis into an adult beetle. This gnarly bark belongs to a butternut or white walnut (Juglans cinerea), a rarer and rarer tree these days because of a fungal butternut canker. The trees tend to look like hell (a couple at Morris Arboretum look like hell warmed over). These two were hidden away in the forests of Inwood; our Torrey Botanical guide led us to them. Catkin of male flowers of the butternut. The ground underneath was littered with these, as well as with a few old nuts from last fall. These two trees are still kicking. The small red female flowers were visible above through binoculars.The adult firefly emerges a milky white. The soft exoskeleton needs to harden off and darken before this critter is ready to fly.

Time For Some Greens

A jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) wonderland. But shouldn’t they get darker, more stripey? Or does that come with age?The smell of the flowers of Liriodendron tulipifera incites reveries in my smell-brain. Where do I know that smell from? The ants, too, are intrigued. Wonder what they think when they fall out of the sky?While we’re on the subject of the Magnoliaceae, will you look at these dinosaur plants? Umbrella magnolias, Magnolia tripetala, an understory tree.I’d never seen these before.En garde!Another understory tree along the same path: pawpaw (Asimina triloba).Flowers of. Now, I have seen these before, but only in botanical garden and arboretum settings. Here in Williamsburg, VA, they were all along this path, like the jacks, tulipitrees, and magnolias. Funny thing: we found this woodland path via the hotel book; they recommend it for joggers — good gravy, think of all they miss as they stomp through!

Ferns and pines elsewhere in the state.
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Time to say goodbye to the lawn.

Even More Evidence

Pictures from the last week here in Brooklyn and northwestern Philadelphia. As spring continues, so does the most corrupt administration in American history, doing deep and lasting damage to the country, our democracy, and the rule of law.


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