Sweating Plants and Some Galls, 07-13-22

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.

Species List:

  1. Alkali Heath, Frankenia salina [sweats salt]
  2. Alkali Heliotrope, Heliotropium curassavicum
  3. Alkali Mallow, Malvella leprosa
  4. Alkali Weed, Cressa truxillensis
  5. American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
  6. Ant, Argentine Ant, Linepithema humile
  7. Bindweed, Field Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis [pink, blush]
  8. Bindweed, Hillside False Bindweed, Calystegia subacaulis [all white]
  9. Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus
  10. Brown-Headed Cowbird, Molothrus ater
  11. Buckwheat, California Buckwheat, Eriogonum fasciculatum
  12. California Fuchsia, Epilobium canum
  13. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  14. Case-Bearing Leaf Beetle, Diachus sp.
  15. Chicory, Cichorium intybus
  16. Clover, Strawberry Clover, Trifolium fragiferum
  17. Coastal Button-Celery, Prickly Coyote Thistle, Eryngium armatum
  18. Coyote Brush Bud Gall midge, Rhopalomyia californica
  19. Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis
  20. Eucalyptus, River Redgum, Eucalyptus camaldulensis
  21. Flat-Topped Honeydew Gall Wasp, Disholcaspis eldoradensis
  22. Fly, Common Flesh Fly, Sarcophaga sp.
  23. Fremont’s Cottonwood, Populus fremontii
  24. Fuzzy-Gall Wasp, Cynips conspicuus [round mealy bumpy; on Valley oak]
  25. Gouty Stem Gall Wasp, Callirhytis quercussuttoni
  26. Great-Tailed Grackle, Quiscalus mexicanus
  27. Gumweed, Great Valley Gumweed, Grindelia camporum
  28. House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus
  29. Hoverfly, Margined Calligrapher, Toxomerus marginatus
  30. Ladybeetle, Seven-Spotted Lady Beetle, Coccinella septempunctata
  31. Leaf Gall Wasp/ Unidentified per Russo, Tribe: Cynipidea [on Valley Oak]
  32. Meadow Spittlebug, Philaenus spumarius
  33. Mullein, Turkey Mullein, Doveweed, Croton setiger
  34. Narrow-Leaf Bird’s-Foot Trefoil, Lotus tenuis
  35. Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
  36. Oak Apple, California Gall Wasp, Andricus quercuscalifornicus
  37. Oak Powdery Mildew, Erysiphe alphitoides
  38. Oak, Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  39. Purple Star-Thistle, Centaurea calcitrapa
  40. Raven, Common Raven, Corvus corax
  41. Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
  42. Red-Tailed Hawk, Western Red-Tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis calurus
  43. Red-Winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
  44. Rosette Gall Wasp, Andricus wiltzae [on Valley Oak]
  45. Round Gall Wasp, Burnettweldia washingtonensis [on valley oak]
  46. Saltbrush, Atriplex sp.
  47. Saltbush, Big Saltbush, Atriplex lentiformis
  48. Shot Hole Borer, Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer Beetle, Euwallacea fornicatus sp.
  49. Spined Turban Gall Wasp, Cynips douglasii [summer gall, pink, spikey top]
  50. Stink Bugs, Family: Pentatomidae [eggs]
  51. Sunflower, Common Sunflower, Helianthus annuus
  52. Tarweed, Woodrush Tarweed, Hemizonia congesta luzulifolia
  53. Western Meadowlark, Sturnella neglecta
  54. Yellow Wig Gall Wasp, Druon fullawayi
  55. ?? Turtle in the water, just nose visible

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