I got up around 5:00 am so I could get the dogs fed and pottied, and got myself ready to go with my friend and fellow naturalist Roxanne to look for galls. We started off going to the Jepson Prairie Preserve to look for a stand of oak trees we had been told about. But we didn’t see ANY oaks around the area; only eucalyptus trees. It was partly cloudy there with a VERY stiff wind that made photographing anything difficult.
We found some plants I’d never seen before including purple star thistle, Button Celery, and Alkali Heath. The heath really intrigued me because as I was holding it, my hand was getting drenched in “water”. The plants was literally SWEATING salt water. Amazing.
According to the Nature Collective: “…Alkali heath eliminates the toxic salt by excreting concentrated salt water through specialized glands. As the sun evaporates the water, crystals of salt are left on the foliage…” Some of the photos I took of it show the droplets of sweat, and we tasted some of the exudate to see just how salty it was. Growing right next to the heath was some Akali Weed, which was also new to me.
We then headed over toward Woodland to look for spiders and other insects. As we were driving along Highway 113, we could see Valley Oaks planted along the side of the road. Roxanne asked if I wanted to checkout the oaks for galls and I said, “Sure!” It’s fun having a friend who thinks the same way you do and is ready for an at-the-moment adventure. So we found a spot where we could pull well off the highway and checked out some of the trees. I was glad we did. We ended up finding about nine different kinds of galls. The Red Cones and Yellow Wigs were just starting to form, very tiny.
The most exciting find for me was a tree that had about a dozen or more Rosette Galls. Usually, I only find solitary ones of the Valley oaks, and most of those in an aged state. Here, we were seeing lots of the galls at different stages: some bright green, some starting to brown. It was so exciting.
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.
We also found a few Gouty Twig Galls (or something like that): swellings that seemed to be associated in part to collections of old honeydew galls. It made us wonder if the dripping honeydew had aggravated the stem tissue and caused it to swell. Collections of honeydew can lead to things like sooty mold which can adversely affect leaves, but I don’t know if that kind of mold can actually affect the stem tissue itself or cause it to swell. More research needed.
As we were leaving, we notice a Highway Patrol vehicle coming down the freeway, heading toward us. Although pulling off the highway isn’t illegal, the CHP doesn’t like folks just randomly parking off road, because they don’t know if you need help or not. It wastes their resources to stop and check n you if you don’t really need anything. We pulled our car up near the edge of the road as the CHP vehicle got closer, and he actually slowed down traffic so a space opened up for us on the road. That was nice of him!
We then went over to the East Regional Pond in Woodland. I was hoping to find some galls on the Big Saltbush plants, but… nuthin’. In the summer months, there really isn’t much of anything to see there, even if there’s water in the shallow pond.
By this time, it was already getting too warm for us to walk anymore. So, we skipped “spider-land” and headed home. We were out for about 5 hours.
- Alkali Heath, Frankenia salina [sweats salt]
- Alkali Heliotrope, Heliotropium curassavicum
- Alkali Mallow, Malvella leprosa
- Alkali Weed, Cressa truxillensis
- American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
- Ant, Argentine Ant, Linepithema humile
- Bindweed, Field Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis [pink, blush]
- Bindweed, Hillside False Bindweed, Calystegia subacaulis [all white]
- Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
- Brown-Headed Cowbird, Molothrus ater
- Buckwheat, California Buckwheat, Eriogonum fasciculatum
- California Fuchsia, Epilobium canum
- Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
- Case-Bearing Leaf Beetle, Diachus sp.
- Chicory, Cichorium intybus
- Clover, Strawberry Clover, Trifolium fragiferum
- Coastal Button-Celery, Prickly Coyote Thistle, Eryngium armatum
- Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
- Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
- Eucalyptus, River Redgum, Eucalyptus camaldulensis
- Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
- Fly, Common Flesh Fly, Sarcophaga sp.
- Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
- Fuzzy-Gall Wasp, Cynips conspicuus [round mealy bumpy; on Valley oak]
- Gouty Stem Gall Wasp, Callirhytis quercussuttoni
- Great-Tailed Grackle, Quiscalus mexicanus
- Gumweed, Great Valley Gumweed, Grindelia camporum
- House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
- Hoverfly, Margined Calligrapher, Toxomerus marginatus
- Ladybeetle, Seven-Spotted Lady Beetle, Coccinella septempunctata
- Leaf Gall Wasp/ Unidentified per Russo, Tribe: Cynipidea [on Valley Oak]
- Meadow Spittlebug, Philaenus spumarius
- Mullein, Turkey Mullein, Doveweed, Croton setiger
- Narrow-Leaf Bird’s-Foot Trefoil, Lotus tenuis
- Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
- Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
- Oak Powdery Mildew, Erysiphe alphitoides
- Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
- Purple Star-Thistle, Centaurea calcitrapa
- Raven, Common Raven, Corvus corax
- Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
- Red-Tailed Hawk, Western Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis calurus
- Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
- Rosette Gall Wasp, Andricus wiltzae [on Valley Oak]
- Round Gall Wasp, Burnettweldia washingtonensis [on valley oak]
- Saltbrush, Atriplex sp.
- Saltbush, Big Saltbush, Atriplex lentiformis
- Shot Hole Borer, Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer Beetle, Euwallacea fornicatus sp.
- Spined Turban Gall Wasp, Cynips douglasii [summer gall, pink, spikey top]
- Stink Bugs, Family: Pentatomidae [eggs]
- Sunflower, Common Sunflower, Helianthus annuus
- Tarweed, Woodrush Tarweed, Hemizonia congesta luzulifolia
- Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
- Yellow Wig Gall Wasp, Druon fullawayi
- ?? Turtle in the water, just nose visible
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