Archive for May, 2022

Just thought I’d share a few of the spring blooms from my garden. These will of course not be blooming in July when we have the Horticulture Club tour. My tulips were amazing this year. I planted over 100, many of which did not bloom…I’m thinking critter issues and a few in pots didn’t make it. But my tree peonies were prolific for sure.

Hellebore Wedding series Wedding Bells
Hellebores Wedding Party Series Flower Girl
Hellebores: Wedding Party Series Maid of Honor
Proven Winners Double Take® Orange Quince
Peony tulips
Yes, it’s a tulip


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Crimson & Clover

By Jennie S.

On the north side of Dunbar Rd between Strasburg and Geiger there is a large field of crimson clover in bloom. This soil-improving cover crop might be harvested for seed but it is more likely to be tilled up or killed and planted to corn or soybeans shortly. Karen H. remembers seeing a field near her, and seeing folks stop along the road to take photos of it. I thought our horticulture club members might enjoy the sight and being able to identify the plant. I took a sample to the meeting Saturday and took these photos this morning.  My phone did not get the deep red shade of the flowers.

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Oak Gall

The following articles were compiled during the last 7 days by members of the Buckeye Environmental Horticulture Team to benefit those who are managing a commercial nursery, garden center, or landscape business or someone who just wants to keep their yard looking good all summer.  Access the BYGL website for additional information on other seasonal topics at: http://bygl.osu.edu

Another Interesting Oak Gall: the Roly-Poly

Authors Joe Boggs

Published on May 13, 2022

One of the most unusual galls found on oaks is the light green, sometimes speckled, ball-like Roly-Poly Galls produced under the direction of the gall wasp, Dryocosmus quercuspalustris (family Cynipidae).  The specific epithet reveals one of the most common hosts of this gall-making wasp:  Quercus palustris is the scientific name for Swamp Spanish Oak (a.k.a. Pin Oak) with palustris being Latin for “swampy” or “marshy.”

However, the gall-wasp has a much wider gall-making palette including many members of the red oak group.  The galls may also be found rising from both leaves and catkins.  This is a bit unusual for gall-making arthropods with most targeting specific plant structures.

The hollow galls are around 1/2″ in diameter.  The “roly-poly” name comes from the unattached, white, seed-like structure that rolls around inside the galls.  The structure houses a single wasp larva.  I like to imagine newly emerging wasps staggering around after spending time rolling around inside the galls.  Probably not true, but it’s an entertaining thought.

An alternate common name sometimes used for the galls is the much less descriptive Succulent Oak Gall.  Although I’ve never found a reference explaining this name, I believe it refers to the fleshy walls surrounding the roly-poly structure like the flesh of a cantaloupe.

Plant galls provide both a home and food for the developing gall-maker.  But they don’t always protect the developing wasp as illustrated by the images below.  When I saw the hole in the succulent gall-wall, I thought it was an adult emergence hole.  However, cutting the gall open revealed a concavity around the hole.  A reasonable interpretation is the wasp larva became a bird meat snack; a fate not shared by its neighbor.

 Oak-Apples are Growing

Authors Joe Boggs

Published on May 13, 2022

Borrowing on a statement made by Sinclair and Lyon in “Diseases of Trees and Shrubs” about maple tar spot, galls are the most obvious and least damaging of any abnormal growth found on trees.  There are somewhere around 800 different types of arthropod galls found on oaks in the U.S.  About 700 are produced by tiny wasps (order Hymenoptera) belonging to the family Cynipidae.  Of those, only a handful represent a serious threat to the overall health of their oak hosts.

One of the most obvious types of cynipid galls currently rising on oaks in Ohio is the Oak-Apple galls so named for their resemblance to Malus fruit.  The galls are a true wonder with some having surface imperfections that resemble those produced by apple pests.

There are over 50 species of gall-wasps that are known to produce oak-apples in North America and there are probably at least 10-15 distinct species of oak-apple gall-wasps found in Ohio.  Of course, those numbers are a matter of guesswork because the geographical range of cynipid wasps remains poorly understood and the numbers also imply that all species are known. 

A Wonderous Process

I teach six “Gall Laws” in my presentations on the topic.  The First Gall Law:  Galls are abnormal plant growths produced under the direction of a living gall-maker.  They do not arise spontaneously; they are not a response to plant wounding or chemicals that do not involve a gall-maker.

Gall-making wasp females take advantage of undifferentiated meristematic cells to form both a home and food source for their offspring.  Meristematic cells are like teenagers; they don’t know what they’re going to be until they grow up.  Galls cannot be created from plant cells once they’ve differentiated into their final form; once they’ve “grown-up.”

It’s why leaf galls occur in the spring, but stem galls can arise at any time.  Leaf galls are formed from meristematic leaf bud cells before the cells set sail on their way to becoming leaf tissue.  The galls can’t develop once the cells reach port as integral parts of functional leaves.  The same is true of galls that form on plant reproductive structures.  Stem galls that arise from meristematic cambial cells can develop anytime the cambial tissue is active which can be in the spring, summer, or fall. 

Research has shown that female wasps launch gall formation by injecting phytohormones along with their eggs to hijack undifferentiated cells.  Under the influence of these chemicals, the cells that were originally destined to become flowers, stems, or leaves are set on a new course.  The process continues with phytohormones arising from the eggs.  Then the larvae remain at the helm to turn plant genes on and off at just the right time to direct the growth of a plant structure we call a plant gall.

Proof that oak-apple galls are constructed from leaf tissue can be seen in the image below.  The gall is infected by the same oak anthracnose fungus behind the dark brown to black necrotic symptoms at the tips of the oak leaf.

Thus far, no researcher has ever produced a gall on oaks or other plants without the assistance of a gall-maker.  No one has figured out exactly how the phytochemicals turn plant genes on and off to produce such intricate plant structures that are specific to the gall-maker species.  Just imagine the plant physiological stories that could be revealed if the process were unraveled.

Oak-Apple Gall Development and Structure

Cutting open plant galls to reveal the internal structure further illustrates the wonders of the gall-making process.  The internal structure of oak-apple galls includes a central seed-like chamber housing a single wasp larva.  The chamber may be surrounded by succulent tissue, not unlike the flesh of an apple, or you may find delicate white fibers radiating from the larval chamber.

Wasp larvae have chewing mouthparts; so, what do the gall-wasp larvae eat?  They don’t eat themselves out of house and home by consuming the gall from the inside out.  Instead, the inside of the gall chamber is lined with specialized cells called nutritive tissue which is constantly being replaced as it is consumed by the gall-wasp larva.  Imagine lounging in a room with pizzas constantly emerging from the walls.

Plant galls commonly change their appearance as they develop (= mature) which can present an identification challenge.  Oak-apple galls range in size at maturity (= they stop expanding) from 1/2 – 2″ in diameter.  However, it can be difficult to determine at this time of the year whether or not the oak-apple is an inherently small gall or a large gall that’s still developing.

One way to distinguish between different sized oak-apples is to carefully cut open the gall to assess wasp development.  Finding a pupa means the gall has reached its full size.  Unfortunately, my gall-cutting prowess commonly produces only half of a wasp larva or worse, a macerated larva.

Once the developing oak-apple gall wasp pupates and leaves the gall-building as a newly minted wasp, the gall turns brown, and the true size of the gall is revealed. The third image below shows two different oak-apple galls based on the size of the mature galls.

Unfortunately, arriving at a final identification of the gall-wasp species can be a challenge.  Keep in mind that gall-wasp taxonomy is based on morphological features of the adults, not on the structure of their galls.  Scientific papers naming gall-wasp species invariably include clear descriptions of morphological features of adult males and females with minimal to no descriptions of their associated galls

Also, there is a general lack of research-based information on oak-apple gall identification.  In fact, no rules govern what makes a round gall an “oak-apple” in the first place.  The “oak-apple” name carries no taxonomic weight although wasps in the cynipid genus Amphibolips appear to dominate the oak-apple gall-makers.

On the upside, delving into the fascinating but often hidden world of gall-making wasps guarantees you will continually learn something new.  The key is to embrace the unknown; to become comfortable with constantly navigating uncharted waters because your final destination is well worth the voyage.

Indeed, oak galls have even captured the attention of luminary naturalist Sir David Attenborough:


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Order Form:

What is a Native Plant?
Native plants (also called indigenous plants) are plants that have evolved over thousands of years in a particular region. They have adapted to the geography, hydrology, and climate of that region. Native plants occur in communities, that is, they have evolved together with other plants. As a result, a community of native plants provides habitat for a variety of native wildlife species such as songbirds and butterflies.

Why Should I Use Native Plants? 
Native plants provide a beautiful, hardy, drought resistant, low maintained landscape while benefiting the environment. Once these plants are established, they will save time and money by eliminating or significantly reducing the need for fertilizers, pesticides, and water. Native plants provide shelter and food for wildlife by attracting a variety of birds, butterflies, and other wildlife by providing diverse habitats and food sources. Closely mowed lawns are of little use to most wildlife.
Wildlife does not just randomly appear in a given area.  It is there because of a favorable habitat.  To attract more wildlife, you need to apply specific wildlife management practices. When designing your backyard wildlife habitat keep in mind food, water, cover and space to raise their offspring.
Natural landscaping is an opportunity to reestablish diverse native plants, thereby inviting the birds and butterflies back home.Order deadline is June 6th, 2022
Pickup date will be June 16th, from 3:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Pickup Location: 9180 South Custer Road (M-50), Monroe (north side of road)

You may find the order form by clicking the link above or by visiting monroecd.org 
Extra inventory will be sold during pickup hours. All pre-orders will receive postcards with pickup details. For more information, please call the Monroe Conservation District at 734-241-8540, extension 5.Rain Barrels Available!The Monroe Conservation District will once again be offering rain barrels for sale. The cost of each rain barrel is $82.68 and they are available in a variety of colors.Rain barrels help reduce household water usage; lawn and garden watering make up nearly 40% of total household water use during the summer. Collecting and storing rainwater in these 55-gallon barrels has many economical and sustainable benefits. The water collected contains no chlorine, lime, or calcium making it ideal for watering gardens, potted plants, as well as car and window washing. Utilizing a rain barrel can save most homeowners about 1,300 gallons of water during peak summer months. Collecting water helps protect the environment by diverting water from storm drains which decreases the impact of runoff to streams and rivers, but it also saves you money and energy. Consider purchasing your rain barrel while the garden season is still early. The rain barrels are made from recycled and reconditioned high-density polyethylene (HDPE), formerly used for food product shipping, such as a pickle and pepper barrels. They are modified with a spigot & overflow fitting to be repurposed as a rain barrel. The rain barrel top/lid is equipped with a metal mesh screen to filter out debris and prevent mosquitos from getting in. For more information, please call the Monroe Conservation District at 734-241-8540, extension 5, or go to the district’s website at www.monroecd.com/products.It’s spongy moth (formerly gypsy moth) season!

The invasive spongy moth, formerly referred to as gypsy moth, is a voracious leaf eater in its caterpillar life stage and populations were high last year across the Lower Peninsula. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources conducted an egg mass survey in the fall of 2021 and based on the survey’s results found that many areas in lower Michigan should expect a collapse of the spongy moth activity. However, a few areas, including Jackson county and parts of southwest Lower Michigan, may have high density populations again this year based on the size and health of egg masses found during the survey. 

The State of Michigan’s NotMISpecies Webinar series recently shared a video with an expert panel that explored how the spongy moth became a naturalized resident in Michigan’s forests and what you can do to reduce the impacts of an outbreak. To view the press release from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, please click here, or visit Michigan.gov for more information.Hold off on pruning oaks!

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is asking those with oak trees to not prune between the dates of April 15th and July 15th. During this time, oak trees are at high risk for oak wilt infection, which is a serious fungal disease that can weaken white oaks and kill red oak trees within a matter of weeks. The disease is caused by flying beetles that can carry spores of the fungus from tree to tree, the fungus enters the tree through wounds that are often a result of pruning or storm damage. Once the tree is infected, the fungus can move to neighboring oaks through root grafts. 

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is advising anyone with a damaged oak tree (during the high-risk period between April 15th – July 15th) to immediately cover all wounds with tree-wound paint or latex-based paint. Please note, painting tree wounds for other tree species is not recommended, as it can reduce the effectiveness of the healing process.

For more information, please visit Michigan.gov. To learn more about invasive species in Michigan, please visit Michigan.gov/invasives. If you would like help from an oak-wilt specialist, please click here; you may also report infections by using this interactive map
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Our mailing address is:
Monroe Conservation District1137 S Telegraph RdMonroe, MI 48161-4040

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Good morning friends.  I hope you will come and support the Milan Area Historical Society and Milan Garden Club with the
Hack House Open House and Plant Sales coming up next Friday, May 6, Saturday, May 7 and Sunday, May 8. 

This is a 3-day event – The Annual Hack House Museum Open House,

Milan Area Historical Society will be selling beautiful, full, Hanging

Baskets and Patio Pots 

Milan Garden Club Perennial Sale includes dates:

Friday, May 6 from 3 to 5pm

Saturday, May 7 from 10am to 4pm

Sunday, May 8 from 1 to 4pm


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