A handy-sized photographic field guide that aims to help both beginners and experts alike to learn more about some of the conspicuous, picturesque and even bizarre galls and what causes them in the first place. Prepared by members of the British Plant Gall Society with the aim of encouraging an augmented interest in the topic and an increase in younger naturalists who will continue studying this fascinating subject into the future.
- Introduction - what are galls and what causes them 5
- Oak galls 13
- Galls on other trees and shrubs 31
- Galls on herbaceous plants 70
- Further reading 90
- Acknowledgments 94
- Index of host plants 95
- The British Plant Gall Society 96
We bought this book because we didn't know anything about galls, but thought it might come in handy at some time. So it languished on the bookshelf for a couple of years.
Then somebody pointed out a holly gall, and I knew just where to go to for more information.
That's when I discovered that not all galls are made by gall midges, or gall wasps, or even gall mites. Some are caused by fungi – especially rust fungi.
The next discovery was that not all galls are like robin's pincushions, or oak apples.
Those fuzzy balls I had thought were germander speedwell seeds were, in fact, caused by a gall midge. And the bright orange patches on nettle stems were caused by a rust fungus. And what about those little black fingers on bracken? That's the little black pudding gall – caused by a gall midge.
So now I find myself looking at all sorts of aberrations on leaves, stems and fruits, and the book is well-thumbed.
It is written in an easily accessible style, and illustrated with photos. It is arranged by host plant, which makes galls easier to identify as most are specific to a single plant, or group of plants.
The book is good, but it can't cover everything – it manages 200 of the commonest or most conspicuous of Britain's 1000 or so galls, which is a very good starting point. Google is useful for the rest.
Michael Chinery is best-known for his field guides to insects and other creepy-crawlies, especially those that occur in our gardens, and for his numerous books encouraging young people to explore and enjoy the countryside and its wildlife. Insects and wild flowers fascinated him from a very early age and this inevitably led to an interest in plant galls, with their intimate mix of plant and animal life. He joined the British Plant Gall Society soon after its formation in 1985, and has been the Society's journal, "Cecidology", since 1990.