Heavy Nettles #30DaysWild – Day 16

#StayWild Tip: Take a second look at familiar plants, birds or animals and learn something new.

Earlier in the week I had tweeted a photo of something unusual I had encountered, and it had a few people scratching their heads. Guesses ranged from “triffid”, to “octopus leg caterpillar”, and – probably closest to the mark – “stem gall”.

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It was indeed a gall, initiated by a type of rust fungus, and the heavy swellings cause the plant stems to contort and bend back on themselves. Whether caused by insects or fungus, I find galls fascinating but also slightly macabre. The idea that a living, growing plant can have its tissues mutated into a form that serves another creature is like something from science fiction. I have a theory that perhaps the galls appear like tasty insect treats, and maybe curious birds act as vectors for the spores.

Now that I have noticed the fungus gall on nettles I am seeing them everywhere I go, which makes me think… where have they been all my life? I’ve been hanging around in places with nettles for practically my entire life, but I guess I never really looked close enough before.

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Spending #30DaysWild last year, then #365DaysWild, has definitely helped me to become more observant and mindful of my environment, and that there is often something new and remarkable to be found in the nature that we take for granted

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