The Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic has been receiving many inquiries about strange bumps and growths on oak tree twigs and leaves. These growths are known as galls, and alarming as they may seem, they do not injure the plant.
- Oak apple galls are attached to the oak leaf as round light-green balls up to 2 inches in diameter and house a single wasp larva. They often have a mottled maroon pattern on the surface.
- Oak bullet galls are common twig galls on our native bur oaks. Bullet galls are hard, round, and pea-to-knuckle-sized, and usually are most apparent by August.
- Jumping oak galls grow on leaves and look a bit like small, round seeds or BBs. The galls fall off the oak, carrying the larva with them. The larvae in the fallen galls are active, and as they jerk around, the small galls can seem to jump on the ground (similar to "Mexican jumping beans."
- Oak pill galls are irregular, hardened swellings up to one-quarter inch in diameter on the upper surface of the leaf.
- Woolly oak leaf gall (photo below) look like a dense wad of wool attached to the leaf midvein. They may be as large as three-fourths of an inch and are often bright pink or yellow in color, fading to brown in the fall.
- Horned oak galls are a stem gall that can be numerous on trees. There are no effective treatments.
Horned oak gall, the 'horns' contain the wasp larvae that trigger the gall formation.
Oak tree heavily infested with horned oak galls.