Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Oak Galls


Galls are defined as a growth on a plant that are caused by another organism. In the case of the Oak marble gall (pictured) found on pedunculate oaks, they are caused by a tiny wasp, Andricus kollari, which measures about 1.5mm long.

Around May or June a sexual female lays her eggs in the developing buds of an oak tree, usually in an immature or unhealthy specimen. Chemicals from the adult and the developing wasps cause the formation of the gall.

Oak apple galls are caused by Biorhiza polliza, and oak knopper galls are caused by Andricus quercuscalicis; two other types of wasp, producing two other types of gall.

Until the early twentieth century, oak galls were used in the production of ink. The Book of Magical Charms, a handwritten manuscript written in England in the seventeenth century, containing numerous passages regarding charms for things such as healing toothache, was written in oak gall ink.

Oak galls could also be used for divination. Three galls were dropped into a basin of water to see if a child was bewitched. If they floated, the child wasn’t enchanted, but if they sank, the child was.

They were also used to predict the weather. If a maggot was found inside on St. Michaelmas Day (29th September) the weather ahead would be pleasant. If a spider was found, ruined crops, if a wasp was found, moderate weather, and if nothing was found serious disease would occur all year.

Oaks are associated with my home town. I’m going to buddy these galls with some peridot to make a necklace or bracelet.

© Original content; repost with clear, written credits. @the_cemetery_witch

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