Archive for February, 2011

Fascinating Galls – CNPS OC talk this Thursday

February 14, 2011

General Meeting – California Native Plant Galls

Speaker: Dr. Peter Bryant

Please join us this Thursday night, February 17, 2011 at the Duck Club, Riparian View Way, Irvine  (NEW Directions here).  If you can help with setup of hospitality or with a contribution of food, please contact Sarah Jayne at Also, help with setup of tables and chairs is welcomed starting at 6:15 pm.:

  • 6:45 PM –  Doors Open for Food, Fellowship
  • 7:00 PM – Interest Centers (including expanded plant sales with wildflowers and more)
  • 7:30 PM- Main Program:  California Native Plant Galls with speaker Dr. Peter Bryant

Galls can be easy to overlook, but these plant growths are an important and surprisingly common feature of the natural world. And what a fascinating subject for native plant lovers and entomologists alike.

In a recent issue of Natural History magazine, Ron Russo marveled at the diversity of the growths, called galls, which are induced on various plants by insects and sometimes by other organisms. In our area, galls can be found on Scrub Oak, Live Oak, Willow, Coyote Bush, and White and Black Sage. After a female of the inducing species deposits an egg on the host plant, as an apparent defensive reaction the plant responds by encapsulating the egg or larva in a tumor-like growth called a gall. In the process the plant produces a nutritious environment that supports growth of the inducer larva. But that is only the beginning of the story. A miniature ecosystem often develops inside the gall as the gall itself is invaded by parasitoids (insects that kill and feed on the inducer) and inquilines (insects that feed on the gall tissue without attacking the inducer).

What this means is that if you get curious about galls and keep them in containers, what eventually emerges can be the inducer species, and/or one or a collection of parasitoids and inquilines. Amazing!

Dr. Bryant has some great photos and information to share with us, you won’t want to miss these and more:

Galls from Crystalline Gall Wasp

Disholcaspis female emerging from beaked twig gall

Spiny Gall

SAVE THE DATE: Next OC-CNPS General Meeting March 17, 2011 — Book signing and talk: “Wild and Beautiful: A Natural History of the Open Spaces in Orange County” by Dr Allan A. Schoenherr  (Laguna Wilderness Press)

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