Oak Apple Gall

This entry is part 26 of 34 in the series Small World


Incidental planet, Biblical
metonym for bitterness,
a green anti-fruit filled with air
in citrus-like sections
& harboring a larva at its core.
The oak’s response to a bit
of foreign matter is not
unlike the oyster’s: wall it off
inside a solid tear-drop.
Come fall, it turns red
but doesn’t rot, lapsing instead
into tough brown paper,
a manuscript in the round
that whelps a wasp.

Biotic hacks

tulip-tree cocoons

An otherwise leafless tulip-tree sapling in the yard still holds five or six leaves, curled and sewn into moth cocoons: a simple yet elegant biotic hack. (Update) This is most likely the work of the promethea silkmoth, Callosamia promethea.

goldenrod bunch gall 2

Many of the dried goldenrod stalks display a more destructive repurposing, the work of a midge known as Rhopalomyla solidaginis which lays its eggs in the terminal bud and restricts all further growth to that point, where its fat larva feeds and may be joined by midges of other species in search of shelter.

goldenrod bunch gall

A inflorescence may still emerge from the cluster, but much of the time there’s only the hack’s faux flower, a beautiful fuck you to the Canada goldenrod.

goldenrod ball gall

Less destructive is the goldenrod ball gall, winter home of a fly larva, Eurosta solidaginis. The adult which emerges in the spring is said to be a poor flyer, and only lives a couple of weeks — long enough to mate and inject its eggs into a young goldenrod stem. It is the larva that then produces the chemical instructions to grow a globular home in the plant’s core.