This is a journal of my vegetable gardens. Skippy was my first dog and he thought the garden was his, even though I did all the work. Now Suzie and Charley follow in his footsteps. We're located near Boston (USDA zone 6A). I have a community plot, a backyard vegetable garden, fruit trees, berry bushes, chickens, and bees. I use sustainable organic methods and do my best to grow all of my family's vegetables myself.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

happy halloween! - witch hazel with witch's hats

witch hazel 5

The witch hazel around Fresh Pond in Cambridge is in full bloom now right in time for Halloween. I never noticed the witches' hats before.

Here are excerpts from Nature Observer Journal. A perfect Halloween story.

When you find Witch Hazel examine the few remaining leaves... often see a small cone that resembles a miniature witch’s hat. This is a Witch Hazel Cone Gall; the temporary home of a Witch Hazel Cone Gall aphid, Hormaphis hamamelidis. H. hamamelidis has a life as bizarre as the mythical hags that transformed themselves into frightening creatures to torment medieval travelers. In late fall female aphids lay eggs on Witch Hazel branches. In spring only female aphids (stem mothers) emerge. These produce a secretion that causes a wart-like malformation to form on the leaf.... cone-shaped and hollow with an opening on the leaf’s under surface. The aphid mothers then deposit fertile eggs in the cone... produced parthenogenically. When the next generation of aphids are mature they emerge from the cone and fly to a birch tree where they live as flightless insects and reproduce sexually for several generations. The sixth generation hatches with wings and flies back to the Witch Hazel to reproduce. Another generation of stem mothers hatches on the Witch Hazel and the extraordinary cycle begins again.

© Skippy's Vegetable Garden


Blogger MUDNYC said...

That is really cool although I don't totally understand it!

October 31, 2009 10:48 PM

Blogger victoria T. said...

we are looking for witch hazel around our area, but we,ve been unsuccessful so far. We want to see those witch's hats for ourselves. It is amazing that you noticed them.

November 01, 2009 11:00 AM

Blogger Janet Glaser said...

This truly IS an amazing Halloween story. I wonder if we have witch hazel plants in Michigan. Now I am going to have to google it. Thanks for sharing.

November 01, 2009 5:42 PM

Blogger Kalena Michele said...

I told my sister about the witch hazel trees and the witch "hats". She cracked up because she and I never even thought about where our favorite astringent comes from. Thank you for this informational post!

November 07, 2009 8:43 PM


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