Source: Mother Nature Network MNN
Called a wool sower gall, these fluffy, polka-dotted balls are caused by a species of parasitic wasp.
One look at this fluffy, polka-dotted flower and you’d be forgiven for thinking a Truffula Tree straight out of Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax” was found growing in Texas.
This bizarre display of nature, called a wool sower gall, was discovered by a ranger while on patrol at the Atlanta State Park in northeast Texas. As a park official explained on Facebook, they’re not an actual flower, but the result of abnormal plant tissue growth caused by a parasitic wasp.
“These are created when a wool sower wasp lays its eggs in a white oak,” they shared. “When the eggs hatch in spring, chemicals on the grubs stimulate the plant to produce this gall, which provides food and protection for the growing wasps.”
If you were to pull a gall apart and peer inside, you would discover several small, seed-like structures containing developing wasps. It’s also worth noting that despite their fluffy appearance, they’re apparently quite firm to the touch.
A quick search on social media shows that they’re fairly common throughout the country. The good news is that the wasps do not apparently cause any great damage to the oak trees.