Galls

Wednesday, September 17th 2014

Recently some abnormal growths have been spotted on some of the plants at Foxglove. Strangely these growths are caused by other organisms (mainly mites or insects) and are called galls. The organism that causes the gall interferes with the plants development and normal growth to produce food and shelter for itself. Some of the resulting growths are unlike anything the plant would produce normally and can form elaborate shapes and colours. A prime example of this is the Robin’s Pincushion gall shown below.

This is caused by the larvae of a tiny gall wasp, Dipoloepis rosae. The grubs inside the gall feed on the host plant throughout the winter and emerge in spring as adults.

Not all galls are so elaborate or colourful; the one below is caused by a gall midge, possibly Rabdophaga salicis, however it’s difficult to be sure as there are some 600 species of gall midge found in Britain. This one was found on some of the willow we are removing from the heath.
 


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