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Free images of North American Wildflowers 
Goldenrod Galls

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What are those strange growths on the Goldenrod plant?  Although they can be found on other plants as well, the small tumour-looking bulges on the plant are called "galls" and are actually hibernation dens for insects.  Certain types of flies lay their eggs on the stem of the plant.  The hatching larva dig themselves into the interior of the stem.  The swelling is the plants response to the insect living inside.

The larva is laid in spring, and will live inside the plant for the entire summer, wintering inside the stem.  Unless eaten by predators such as other insects or birds, the larva turn into grubs and emerge next spring.  Although the galls aesthetically damage plants, they do not do serious harm to the plants health.  In order to defend itself, the plant creates the Ball Gall to provide the grub with more room.

Galls are either circular or spindle-shaped.  Round galls are homes to the Goldenrod Stem Gall Fly (Eurosta solidaginis).   The spindle-shaped galls are home to the Goldenrod Gall Moth (Gnorimoschema gallaesolidaginis).   

Note:  Another name for Galls is "Cecidia" and they can also be caused by various other parasites including fungi, bacteria, insects and mites.

 

Goldenrod plant weed with round tumour gall

Goldenrod Gall   (Gall-2)

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Round tumour like growth on goldenrod plant

Goldenrod Gall   (Gall-3)

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Wild Ontario plant flower with several round tumours galls

Goldenrod Gall   (Gall-4)

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Round galls on goldenrod plant

Goldenrod Gall   (Gall-5)

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Round tumour on stem of Goldenrod plant.

Goldenrod Gall   (Gall-6)

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Cross section of new Goldenrod gall.

Goldenrod Gall   (Gall-7)

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The following images are cross section cuts of newly developing galls.  With the white pulpy material inside, it is difficult to see the grub living within.

 

Interior of Goldenrod gall

Goldenrod Gall   (Gall-8)

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Goldenrod gall cut in half showing interior.

Goldenrod Gall   (Gall-9)

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Cross section of interior of plant gall.

Goldenrod Gall   (Gall-10)

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A fly called the "Goldenrod Gall Fly"  [Eurosta solidaginis] is a parasite and lays its eggs on the stem of a Goldenrod plant.  The female fly injects her egg-laying tube called an "ovipositor" into the Goldenrod stem.  In about 10 days the larvae hatch and begin to eat the inside of the Goldenrod stem.  The swelling and creation of the round-shaped gall is the plant's response to the insect living inside.  The larva is laid in spring and will live inside the plant for the entire summer.  Sometimes the galls become very large - about the size of a ping-pong ball.

As winter approaches, the larvae produce a chemical that prevents them from dying in the cold weather.  This chemical is very much like anti-freeze.

Unless eaten by predators such as other insects or birds, the larva turn into grubs and then adults that will emerge next spring.  Many birds have learned to look for large galls in order to get a tasty meal.  

  Did you know....   

that there are two types of parasitic wasps - Eurytoma gigantea and Eurystoma obtusiventris that steal the galls made by the Goldenrod Gall Flies?  These two wasps hunt for galls in which to lay their own eggs.  The Eurytoma obtusiventris lays its eggs inside the Gall Fly larva while the Eurytoma gigantea eats the whole gall fly and takes its place in the gall.

 

Why are some galls round and some elliptical?

Round galls are created by the Goldenrod Gall FLY, while elliptical galls are created by the Goldenrod Gall MOTH [Epiblema scudderiana].  The moth's life cycle is much the same as that of the fly, except that their galls are more camouflaged, and elongated.  All images of galls below were made by Goldenrod Gall Flies.

 

Dried brown Goldenrod tumour gall.

Goldenrod Gall - 1   - Note the hole.

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Wildflower Gall Image Pages   [1]   [2]

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The Earth
Laughs in Flowers


~ Ralph Waldo 
Emerson ~

 

 

"We can complain 
because rose bushes 
have thorns, 
or rejoice because 
thorn bushes 
have roses."

~ Abraham Lincoln ~

 

 

"I wonder if
the Daffodil,
shrinks from the
touch of frost,
And when her veins
grow stiff & still,
She dreams
that life is lost?
Ah, if she does,
how sweet a thing
Her resurrection
day in spring!

~ Emma C. Dowd ~

 

 

"Bred feeds the body, indeed, but flowers 
feed also the soul."

~ The Koran ~

 


"If seeds in the 
black earth 
can turn into 
such beautiful roses, 
what might not 
the heart of man 
become in its 
long journey 
toward the stars?"

~ G.K. Chesterton ~

 


 

"I'd rather have
roses on my table
than  diamonds
around my neck."
~ Emma Goldman ~

 

 

 

"Where flowers bloom
so does hope."

~ Lady Bird Johnson ~

 

 

 

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