One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Any idea what these things on the leaves are?

Check back with you later!


Guess we should have clarified that these things are not ‘on’ the leaves but are growing out of them. That’s what happens when something gets into the leaf tissue and the leaf doesn’t like it. This might be an insect laying an egg or a fungus spore getting into a wound. The tree cells rally and create a ‘gall’ around the invader. Different plants create different galls, the most famous and noticeable being the Oak Apple Gall. (Squirrel kits have to learn that those are not  food, since they grow where we expect acorns!)

We had to write back to our reader to learn what kind of a tree this was…by the way, thank you to Jeanine for allowing us to use her photos for today’s mystery!

The tree looks like a type of wild cherry, but we’re not sure which.

So with that information, we were able to narrow our search and came up with spindle galls. Viette’s Views gardening blog has an excellent photo essay on galls which includes notes on spindle galls, caused by microscopic mites called eriophyid mites.

Ok, that sound like a bug you can’t stop, and the tree is dealing with it the best it can!


C is for Cherry

Ok, folks, I had this all set before we checked the letter schedule for ‘D’ day…and saw Sundays are free! We forgot! (How quickly they forget!) Does anyone else miss that nice calendar desktop A to Z used to have?

So we don’t disappoint all of our regular readers,  you get a bonus C at the bottom. In the meantime, here’s our cherries….Ornamental Weeping Cherry Tree blossoms

Wild Cherry Blossoms

Spring and cherry blossoms. Sigh. Whether planted trees or native, haven’t they been lovely?


C is also for Canada Geese wildlife statue on Motionless Monday, a little column in which we squirrels feature wildlife statures because humans can’t seem to get enough of us!

Canada Geese Wildlife Statue

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

It’s Sunday again and I–Hickory–am your squirrel host for our Sunday mystery photo.

Mystery #112

No hints today, other than these blossoms popped overnight in our suburbs of northern Virginia!

I’ll be back later to check your guesses!


We did have a correct guess today, and another that is a related tree. Thanks for playing with us!

However, now I’m here scratching my furry head. Ms. Flora always calls these trees Wild Cherry, and they are, honest! But when I went to the books to properly identify the particular species, there is no “wild cherry.” I think they may be the Pin Cherry, but I’m gonna have to do my homework on that one…by waiting until the leaves come out to be sure they match. Yes, um, er, ahem. Sorry about not having a positive identification for you all. Got a little excited. The trees are blooming, it’s warm, spring might finally be here to stay…I’m sure you all know the feeling in your furry bellies.

In the meantime, please cast your gazes on the clouds of white lining your roadways and see if the tiny blossoms are five-petaled. These wild cherry trees sprout about anywhere the birds drop their pits. The cherries are single and small, about the size of you human readers call pea-size. And tasty to birds, squirrels and chipmunks. Please do not try then if you are a human reader, we cannot say they are safe for you! Just safe to admire.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there,

Here’s a seasonal view in our Eastern deciduous woods.

Mystery #89


Any idea what it is, and what kind of tree it’s on?

Give me your guesses!



What would live in webbing in the woods?

These are Eastern Tent Caterpillars, Malacosoma americium, in their preferred food tree, a Wild Cherry.

Tent caterpillars & frassThey are only out in the spring, usually just as the trees come into leaf and make their silk nest anchored between two branches. That is a habit that identifies them from other community-living caterpillars.


The little dots all over the silk are their grass, the word for poop in caterpillar terms. As the larvae get bigger, they venture from the nest and feed on the cherry leaves, somethings eating all of them. (And squirrels are accused of being greedy!) But it doesn’t usually kill the tree! Watch sometime and you’ll notice the tree re-leafs. Tent caterpillars have an interesting social structure, too much to go into on our humble blog. But you readers might want to look them up, now that you know what they are!