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The gall of it all
March 7, 2010 5:35 PM   Subscribe

Galls or plant galls are abnormal outgrowths of plant tissues. Some are hideous and some strangely beautiful, and some can even be mistaken for an actual crop of the tree. Galls often form due to insects or fungi, but the plant is an unwilling and helpless partner.
posted by rosswald (23 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Many of the pictures in the second link are surprisingly disturbing. Cool!
posted by FishBike at 5:50 PM on March 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Bleeeh.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:53 PM on March 7, 2010


i tried reading that second link and got the heebie jeebies
posted by rebent at 5:59 PM on March 7, 2010


Yuck.
posted by delmoi at 6:00 PM on March 7, 2010


I love it. Galls can be a source of emergency survival food and fresh fishing bait.
posted by Sukiari at 6:08 PM on March 7, 2010


Thanks! I see the little round things on trees all the time and never knew what they were.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 6:09 PM on March 7, 2010


I am trying to figure out what's so bleeeh, jeebie, or yuck about any of this. My vote is for 'super awesome.'
posted by thejoshu at 6:10 PM on March 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


I can't believe you overlooked my favorite gall-causing creature, Agrobacterium tumefaciens, which causes crown gall. It acts somewhat like a retrovirus and inserts a portion of tumorigenic DNA into the plant cells, which then form the gall for the bacteria to live in. A. tumifaciens' Ti (tumour-inducing) plasmid has been used as a molecular biology tool to introduce foreign genes into plant cells.

The gall!
posted by benzenedream at 6:14 PM on March 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


People on the internet are calling the fear of things like these plant galls, honeycomb, etc trypophobia. It's unclear as to whether it's a real phobia or not but there are millions of people online who have the same reaction to these photos as the first couple of posters.
posted by JauntyFedora at 6:16 PM on March 7, 2010


I grew up in an area that has a lot of oak trees. Oak trees form twig galls which grow as big as tennis balls and are remarkably like beige styrofoam. After every windy day, the ground under the oak trees would be littered with fallen galls. Being a curious child, I cut several galls open to discover copper BB pellets inside, leading me to confidently hypothesize that oak galls produced air gun ammunition. I was pretty sad a few years later when I discovered my hypothesis was incorrect.
posted by jamaro at 6:19 PM on March 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


At least they don't cause galls on me. Yet...
posted by sneebler at 6:43 PM on March 7, 2010


Reminds me of Cordyceps fungi.
posted by The otter lady at 6:54 PM on March 7, 2010


I don't know what it is exactly that triggers this reaction [and it's purely visual], but this one creeps the absolute hell out of me. Oh god.
posted by Auden at 8:50 PM on March 7, 2010


Cordyceps... now THERE's something to get all squeebish about!

Wondeful icky monstrosities!
posted by IAmBroom at 9:08 PM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


**Warning: Bugs inside.**
posted by Kimothy at 9:38 PM on March 7, 2010


This seems as good a place as any to link to this video. Warning: may cause more heebie jeebies, but at least it's not real.
posted by aubilenon at 10:27 PM on March 7, 2010


Clicked on the second link and now know that Cheerios grow on trees!
posted by Cranberry at 12:18 AM on March 8, 2010


Not gall, but here's a fasciated (genetically mutated) bluebonnet.
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 12:53 AM on March 8, 2010


People on the internet are calling the fear of things like these plant galls, honeycomb, etc trypophobia. It's unclear as to whether it's a real phobia or not but there are millions of people online who have the same reaction to these photos as the first couple of posters.

It feels to me like a purely instinctive kind of thing. On the basis that plants are food, but plants that have something wrong with them would tend to be unsafe to eat, I think we have evolved this sort of disgust reaction. People who didn't have that reaction, and ate the weird-looking plants anyway, tended to die. Something like that.

Or perhaps it's even more basic than that, just a general aversion to anything that looks diseased or parasitic. I can see how that sort of instinct would eventually evolve, too, if it gave a slight survival advantage to people who avoided other people, animals, plants, etc., with communicable diseases or parasites.
posted by FishBike at 5:33 AM on March 8, 2010


Ya, part of the reason I posted this was when I was looking at the images from the second link... at least with me it did cause a sort of involuntary revulsion.

Still, its an amazing part of nature, especially considering how diverse the causes and presentations are.
posted by rosswald at 6:53 AM on March 8, 2010


The blizzard that hit us last month brought down a lot of trees in our neighborhood. My husband and son were out this weekend clearing a number of cedars that had fallen across one of the neighborhood paths. My son was thrilled to have found a handful of galls. Turns out he found Cedar-Apple Rust galls. I'll have to show him this post so he can learn more about galls. He'll be excited.
posted by onhazier at 8:45 AM on March 8, 2010


I love showing my daughter and wife the insides of the galls on plants, especially when we are rewarded with a big squiggling larvae, the pinker and squishier the better... they don't appreciate it as much mind you, more of an 'oh no; get that away from me' kind of appreciation. Nevertheless, I get to show it to them and proclaim it science.

Spiders a fun that way too.
posted by NiteMayr at 10:00 AM on March 8, 2010


YUCK! kill them with fire!
posted by MXJ1983 at 10:06 AM on March 8, 2010


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