30 October, 2022

Eating galls... For science - October 2022

Gall 1: Andricus quercustozae on Quercus faginea
Date: October 7
Taste: Unremarkable, dry. Basically tastes like wood.
Texture: The outside is too hard to bite. The inside is woody, spongy to the touch but more like sawdust when bitten into because it is very brittle.
Smell: Woody, mildly pleasant.
Notes: Not the one featured on the observation, though it was too beautiful and remarkably large. This time of the year this gall hardens and becomes more wood-like. Most already had exit holes and showed no evidence of inquilines/parasites. I am not familiar with the young gall but I assume it is softer and more spongy.

Gall 2: Dryomyia lichtensteinii on Quercus rotundifolia (Quercus ilex ballota)
Date: October 7
Taste: Unremarkable, dry. Despite being part of the leaf it doesn't have any noticeable taste. These trees receive plenty of sunlight and heat so there's not much water/sap in the leaves.
Texture: Rather hard, but can be easily broken. Reminded me of peanuts.
Smell: None noticed.
Notes: Exit holes present.

Gall 3: Unknown gall (Presumably sawfly?) on Salix sp.
Date: October 7
Taste: Unremarkable at first. Vaguely bitter after chewing. There is a possibility that frass (black "dust") is the cause of the bitter taste.
Texture: Not as hard as the Dryomyia lichtensteinii gall, but not too soft either.
Smell: None noticed
Notes: No larva/pupa present.

Gall 4: Oligotrophus sp. on Juniperus communis
Date: October 7
Taste: Like any leaf would taste, but slightly minty.
Texture: Depending on how developed the gall is, it can be woody, or have the same texture as Juniperus leaves; Flexible and fleshy.
Smell: Same as the plant itself. Aromatic and pleasant.
Notes: Juniperus spp. can cause diarrhea and nausea if consumed, but eating just one leaf is unlikely to have any effect. This gall is usually made up of 4 hardened leaves that gradually close and form a protective shell for one or two sets of leaves that curl up in spoon fashion and form a chamber for the larva. The gall probably falls off when ready, as I observed that Oligotrophus spp. galls on Juniperus spp. easily fall off when disturbed. Presumably for it be buried under litter (Pine needles and the such).

Posted on 30 October, 2022 13:28 by juan_sphex juan_sphex | 4 observations | 1 comment | Leave a comment

Eating galls... For science

Since late 2020 I had a thought on my mind that some galls look strangely appetizing. I also was surprised that in thousands of years of human history, there are very few instances of galls being used as food other than in very specific places or cultures (and there must be a good reason for it). Wikipedia does mention that stem swelling induced by Ustilago esculenta, a type of smut fungus on Zizania latifolia is edible, and highly valued in China. However I will be focusing on arthropod galls because they are more common and arthropods are my field of interest. I also found some useful info about galls on Salvia spp. that are traditionally eaten in Greece and the Middle East. Might have to travel to one of those places!

So, I figured I should eat as many galls as I can, annotate their taste, texture, and observations, and hopefully not get sick on the process. I won't eat the arthropod if I can help it.

I also had the idea of recording myself collecting the gall, eating it and then describing it. But I keep forgetting. So far most galls are unremarkable but I have tried very few because I rarely I remember to taste them. So irresponsible!

Posted on 30 October, 2022 12:26 by juan_sphex juan_sphex | 2 observations | 3 comments | Leave a comment