25 May 2014

Oak Currant Gall - Neuroterus quercusbaccarum - Oak Apple Day

Looks like red currants growing on an Oak Tree? No, it's the Oak Currant Gall, created by Neuroterus quercusbaccarum, a small wasp of the Cynipidae family.

Oak Currant Gall, Woking Palace 12th May 2014
The Gall Wasp has a fascinating life cycle with two generations in a year. Each generation produces a different gall on the tree, the Currant galls as seen in the photo here, and the small circular Spangle galls which are found on the under side of the Oak leaves later in the year.
The male and female wasps emerge in June from the Currant Galls, and after mating the female lays fertilised eggs on the underside of Oak leaves these develop over the winter into the Spangle Galls. Wasps emerge from the Spangle Galls in April and the cycle starts all over again. 
More details at:

May 29th is by tradition known as Oak Apple Day in England. The day commemorated the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660 and was so called ‘Oak Apple Day’ due to his memorable escape from capture by the Roundheads after the battle of Worcester, by hiding up in an oak tree at Boscobel in Staffordshire on 6th September 1651 -  is why many English Pubs carry the name "The Royal Oak" It became customary to show one's allegiance to the Crown by wearing a sprig of Oak leaves preferably including an Oak gall. There were consequences for dissenters. See http://www.darkdorset.co.uk/oak_apple_day.

As Samuel Pepys recorded in his Diary, in 1660, Parliament declared 29th May a Day of Thanksgiving, a public holiday:
"Parliament had ordered the 29 of May, the King's birthday, to be for ever kept as a day of thanksgiving for our redemption from tyranny and the King's return to his Government, he entering London that day."

Oak Apple Day was formally abolished in 1859. The cynipid wasps still seem to be thriving.