Monday, December 1, 2008

December Theme Day: Circles/Spheres

The oak tree next to my house regularly produces oak galls like this one, which eventually fall to the ground. Nicknamed "oak apples", they are formed by the tree in response to irritation under their bark by tiny insects called gall wasps. The wasp larvae mature in the spongy interior of the gall until it is time to burrow out and fly away. You may be able to spot several circular exit holes on this nearly spherical, tennis ball sized gall.

One of the foremost scholarly biologists of gall wasp populations was Dr. Alfred Kinsey, who later applied his training and insights in biological data collection and analysis to creating the then-new scientific field of human sexuality, and ultimately The Kinsey Institute. Apparently the wide variety of gall wasp sexual behaviors caused him to speculate about possible variations in humans.

On the first day of each month, many City Daily Photo Bloggers around the world post a photo tied to an agreed upon theme. To see all the beautiful, creative, and surprising responses to the theme of "Circles/Spheres," click here to view thumbnails and links for all the participants.


Pat said...

So that's a gall! I wondered what people'd been telling me I had a lot of, ha, ha. I like the composition here.

Laurie Allee said...

Elaine, you are SO cool. This is another one of your perfect zen images. And again you have turned the ordinary into something extraordinarily artistic. And to tie in sexology to boot -- you're my hero!

Diederick Wijmans said...

A beautiful immage of this gall and perfectly in theme with December's theme!!
(I have to admit that I did not know the existance of these formations until today.

Olivier said...

bonne idée le champignon, maintenant place à l'omelette ;o)
good idea the mushroom, now puts in the omelette ;o)

Jane Hards Photography said...

I echo blognote of being ignorant of such things. The narrative was extremely interesting to accmpany such a delicate image.

Hope said...

I have heard of a gall on trees...but never had it explained so well or ever seen a photo. A wonderful photo which turns this gall into something very beautiful!

Jilly said...

What an original photograph and incredible information. Imagine Dr. Kinsey looking into human sexuality following his studies of the wasp gall. Made my day!

marley said...

I'd forgotten all about Oak Apples! What a great photo for theme day :)

dkw said...

A good photograph with an informative and interesting description, thank you!

Saretta said...

The wide variety of sexual habits in wasps? Who knew?! LOL!

Lovely photo, by the way.

Knoxville Girl said...

Such a pleasing arrangement you've captured here, a snapshot of the circle of life, if you will. I like your lateral thinking, Elaine.

Helen said...

Interesting and beautiful! Excellent theme day shot.

PJ said...

So from the sex lives of wasps to that of people, Dr Kinsey made a rather large leap. How interesting for us all. I love seeing nature taking its course. A nice take on Theme Day.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Elaine, I have shamelessly stolen your photo and put it in my blog, Thanks. Great photo of one of my favorite toys.

Halcyon said...

I did not know about galls... thanks for teaching me something today!

PS: Excellent photo and great choice for the theme day.

Gerald (SK14) said...

well I never knew about the apple/kinsey connection - puts the eve/apple connection into context as well perhaps!

raf said...

Love it, Elaine! Great take on the theme today. Thank you for your usual informative post.
Also enjoyed your pre-theme day post of encircled delicacies. Prompted us to go out for Mexican food last night.

Anonymous said...

Wow I never knew that about oak apples! And that Dr Kinsey was so into them! Never let it be said these daily photo blogs aren't educational!

Clueless in Boston said...

Interesting factoid about Kinsey and the galls and the wasps. Nice picture too.

Jim Klenke said...

Can you hit them with a baseball bat?

Petrea Burchard said...

Yours might just be the most beautiful, creative and surprising of all. Laurie said "extraordinary" and I must repeat it. I never knew any of this.

magiceye said...

that was so interesting! thank you.

Benjamin Madison said...

Fascinating! And a lovely photo too.

Tash said...

Amazing. It is so interesting to learn about what the odd looking ball was. Wow. Perfect in its simplicity and understated wonder.

USelaine said...

Bibi - Well! I never...! 6^)

Laurie - I merely follow in your shadow, such a writer you are.

Blognote - The next time you're in an oak tree forest, you might notice them now.

Olivier - Ah, it does look like a mushroom from the top, but I don't think you should eat these.

Babooshka - Thank you!

Hope - I learned a lot from the links too. Thanks!

Jilly - There's a brief reference to his early science in the movie "Kinsey", but then they move into his "later years".

Marley and DKW - Thank you!

Saretta - Once in a while they throw in a little parthenogenesis, but no matter what, he found that they consistently smoke a cigarette afterwards.

KG - lateral thinking = nutty (kindly put)!

Helen - Thanks!

PJ - So much science, so little time.

Ernie - I love your description of how to make "ink" from these! Thanks for stealing it.

Halcyon - Thanks!

Hyde (Gerald) - As lightweight as these are, Newton would have been confused!

Raf - Thank you! I hope you had a tamal or two.

Jackie - I don't read a lot of novels, but I do read around (sounds promiscuous!).

CIB - Thanks!

Jim - You can, I suppose, but they are as light as a whiffle ball, and don't hold up so well.

P - You'll watch the beginning of "Kinsey" with greater attention to the beginning next time. 8^)

ME and BM - Thank you both!

Tash - I owe my sense of wonder about the natural world to my mother. We both point out little discoveries to each other on walks through meadows and woods.

Thank you all for sharing my little discovery here!

Dina said...

Interesting, this!
Gall... so that's gall, eh?
I only know it from Jeremiah, in Lamentations 3:19: "Remembering my affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall."
I'll remember your gall-ball now in a happier way.

Susie of Arabia said...

The photo itself is really a beautiful composition. I love the shapes and textures of this photo. And thanks for the interesting facts about the gall-ball!