Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Picnic crumbs

One day, two parks, two mysteries to bring home.

At Queen's Park, in New Westminster, we sat at a picnic table having lunch. A young tree provided shade, and provided the first "What's that?".

There were only a dozen or so of these flowers on the tree. Here's a closer look:

It's a "Handkerchief tree," we discovered after going through a stack of books. Otherwise known as "Dove tree" or Davidia involucrata. It's an import from China, and still relatively rare here. The flowers are in that little cluster in the centre; the white things, always one larger than the other, are bracts.

We had supper under another tree, in Central Park, Burnaby.

This is just the lower branches; I really should have backed off to get a full-scale photo. We were not able to identify the tree.

What intrigued us was this:

Little red spikes growing straight up from some of the leaves.

Leaves with too many "spikes" get all wrinkly.

Some sort of a leaf gall, possibly caused by an insect.

I forgot to turn the leaf over to check the bottom. I didn't think to bring one home. In my defense, I will say that the entire family was congregated, and the food had just arrived. First things first!


  1. How odd, those spikes. I'm curious too as to what causes those.
    Love the handkerchief tree, how unusual the "flowers".
    Lovely post, I hope you all enjoyed your picnic!

  2. Anonymous2:05 pm

    I need to know what these spikes are !!! My son and I have found a tree with these on and really want to know what they are !

  3. Polly Pompadour7:07 pm

    This is spindle gall on what looks like a linden leaf. Gall is caused by chemicals released by mites when they eat. These chemicals cause the naturally occurring hormone levels in the tree to increase, which increases localized cell production, causing the spike-looking formations on the leaves.

    Overall the mites cause no harmful damage, although the gall formations may reduce photosynthesis or even make the leaf fall early, but there's no need for chemical control.

    Here's a great resource on insect and mite gall: http://www1.extension.umn.edu/garden/insects/find/insect-and-mite-galls/


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