On irritations

Gymnosporangium: cedar rust gall. One in this tree was so large I thought it was our dog’s frisbee.

The juniper nearest the house is covered with these things. It rained yesterday, which was welcome: rain means lots of wild asparagus, as well as a bunch of other happy plant life. Rain makes these galls form their little gooey arms. This is a fungus that affects the rose family, of which apples and pears are a part. I’ve got an apple tree 40′ from this juniper. I’ve never noticed a lack of apples because of it…and even if I did, I would have to get rid of a good 30 trees on our property alone to avoid it.

Gall, in the sense I use it when I think about annoying things like this war or this president (irritating, rubbed raw) comes from the Greek word cholos, or wrath; it’s associated with bile and “something bitter to endure.” I kind of like that. But this gall, an abnormal plant growth, comes from the Latin word galla, meaning, of all things, a gall (!) on an oak tree: an oakapple. Words are funny, but I still think Nature has the best sense of humor.

8 responses to “On irritations

  1. How odd, I am working on a post about this very same topic. I only had 2 junipers, though, and was not overly fond of them, so I bagged both of them.


  2. Oh no…does this mean they are bad!!!?? I just saw one and was going to showcase on my blog….silly me…does it mean I have to cut the tree down or just get rid of this growth.

    an eager weekendfarmer : )

  3. I’ve never seen anything like that before but will look for it now. Of course, there aren’t many junipers around here. Mostly Georgia pines. Can it get on pines?


  4. the chics are hatching ….come visit to see them…

  5. Ali: that is one way to deal with an irritant!! “Off with their heads!” You know, I think these things are kind of cool. But the junipers/cedars are definitely wildlings in the category of weed trees…like maples and box elders, IMHO.

    WF: I am agnostic on this. I have new trees that are a long way from producing fruit, but I have and care for about 8 others on my and the adjacent property and nobody’s bothered by them. Granted, these trees are ancient (maybe 60-70 years) so they’ve had a long time to adjust. If I find my new trees are affected, I might get out the chainsaw.

    Hi Lacy! Glad you piped up: I love learning about other folks who’re doing what we’re doing. I don’t know, you guys might be too hot for this kind of pest! Happy spring either way.

    WF! Yay Rosie! That is just great that you’re now getting chicks “for free.” I went to the feed store this a.m. and it was REALLY hard for me to walk away without a boxful of baby bantams or Buff Orpingtons. Or even more meat birds. Just give me a week or two and I will be ordering Batch #2.

  6. There are some varieties of apples that are resistant to the cedar rust, but not those in MY neighborhood. We haven’t had a decent apple harvest in years. My cedar tree is coming down this weekend for that very reason. I thought they were pretty when I first saw them 6 years ago – looked like little pineapples, but I’ve decided that the only way we’re going to get any apples short of replacing all of our trees is to get rid of this cedar and it’s parasitic galls and burn it.

    Glad to hear your galls haven’t affected you so adversly.

  7. Even though those little alien pods get our apple trees all f-ed up with rust spots, I still like watching them swell up and ooze after a rain. They’re so enticingly gross.

  8. Tameson and Meg: I will have to look into this further (which is why I remain agnostic). Of course my apples are spotty: I don’t give enough of a damn to spray them. They’re destined mainly for applesauce and cider anyway so aesthetics isn’t a high priority. Yield as far as I can tell is unaffected. But the new trees will hopefully bear in two-three years so I guess I will just have to see if there’s room enough on this farm for weedy cedar-rust bearing trees and the apples too.

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