Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tree Tumors

Winter days don't come much better: dazzling blue sky, glittering fresh snow, air as clear and sweet and sparkly as ice-cold gingerale.  My friend Laurie Williams invited me for a walk and I didn't need much convincing.  Laurie lives near Mud Pond at Moreau Lake State Park, so I asked her to take me to some of her favorite spots.  She showed me where springs keep the pond's edge unfrozen, where birds and bobcats lurk to snatch bullheads and tadpoles out of the water.  She showed me where a stream tumbles into the pond, its flow interrupted by terraces built by beavers. And lots of spots where she and her kids like to slide on sleds and skis.

Gall-laden crown

Then she showed me these trees, a whole bunch of them, all infected with something that causes all these tumors.  What a sight!  I wonder how these growths (are they galls?) will affect the trees' health come summer.  I wish I knew trees by their bark better than I do.  What are they?  What's causing this blight?  Will it spread through the rest of the forest?  If any of this blog's readers  know, I  hope you will leave a comment.  Both Laurie and I would really like to know.

Looking up the trunk

A growth close up


Anonymous said...

Liked the photo of the gall. Great texture.
Looks like an alien on the right.

Casey Holzworth - OPRHP Regional Biologist said...

After doing some research, they appear to be phomopsis galls on hickory. It's a relatively common gall on hickory and some other species caused by some species of phomopsis fungus. It will harm the vigor of the tree, but that's more of a concern for cultivators of some of the other species that this fungus can impact. Park staff will keep an eye on it.