(12) Nettle Gall
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The Nettle Gall
A few years ago, while looking for caterpillars (larvae) in nettles I came across a funny looking thing like a small banana which was long past its sell-by date attached to that said nettles. I had never seen the likes before and was not sure what to think of it, so image taken for Glyn and was sent to those that care for things like this, and it came back as a “Nettle Gall,” and the man whom it was sent to wanted more sightings with Grid References, which I was happy to provide, as I was looking for many other thing at the same time, so it was not a problem.
“This next part was taken from the Internet and saves me a bit of typing.”
So what is a gall? A general definition states that: - "A gall is an abnormal growth produced by a plant or other host under the influence of another parasitic organism. It involves enlargement and/or proliferation of the host cells and provides both shelter and food or nutrients for the invading organism. The association between the causal agent and the host is usually quite specific."
....... Which means that specific causers are very selective about the plant species they associate with?
The scientific name given to a gall very often reflects the name of the causer - whether that be bacteria, fungus, nematode, insect or mite.
Galls forming on plant stems tend to take on a hard woody form, while those on leaves can be softer and take after the surface characteristics of the leaf - smooth/hairy, dull/shiny.
Back to me.
Well , it seemed that every bunch of nettles had a Gall on at least one of them of different sizes, but predominantly yellow in colour and having raised spots on them and was attached to the stem of the plant between the root and first leaves, with others being on the top leaves, but being a purplish colour for those ones. The plant seemed to ignore what was going on, or maybe it did but could do nothing about it.
A thought came to mind. As nettles do sting, will they still sting with this nasty thing on them or not, and if they can sting will it be the same as if it had no gall on them , or worse?
I never took that chance, and played safe. I took images of them and that was all, and if I had to move any to get a clearer image, the gloves came on. Not your woolen ones but industrial ones that nettles can’t get through them. Nettles stings don’t normally bother me, as I think that I have become immune to their stings, but better safe than sorry
Well that year I got plenty of them to be sent, plus day-month-year and grid-references to the man who wanted them, and that was it. I am still finding them every year since them, but I do not record them, as I had covered a great deal of the island and no more was required.
Next year as you wander about you may come across them and at least you will now know what they are, and remember “They are not mini Bananas” and are not edible!
First published in the Buteman, 09-11-2012