Portraits of Wildflowers

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Archive for April 23rd, 2014

Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres*

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Gall and New Read Oak Leaves 6647

The leaves of young red oak trees may be divided into parts, but I haven’t seen any galls that are. And what, you may wonder, is a gall? I’ll let a page from Brandeis University or another from the University of Minnesota do the talking for me. You may also be intrigued to learn that ink made from oak galls “was the standard writing and drawing ink in Europe, from about the 5th century to the 19th century, and remained in use well into the 20th century.”

I found a bunch of particularly appealing spotted galls, including this one, when I wandered in the greenbelt on the north side of Old Lampasas Trail on April 2. I’d gone back to see if any more morel mushrooms had materialized; they hadn’t, but the oak galls were at least as photogenic.


* So wrote Julius Caesar at the beginning of his Gallic Wars. English translators have traditionally rendered the line as “All Gaul is divided into three parts.” Now that I’ve used the Latin quotation as a title, I expect to get some hits from searchers who’ll be surprised to find a gall rather than Gaul.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 23, 2014 at 6:01 AM

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