Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Heller's Bend

 A gall on a California live oak in Heller's Bend Preserve
Following up on my previous post...

The second day I visited with my ailing father in northern San Diego County, we repeated a morning stroll along the San Luis Rey River Trail, then he snoozed in the afternoon.  I took the opportunity to visit the Fallbrook Land Conservancy's 50-acre Heller's Bend Preserve.
Ferns sprouting from a horizontally rent granite boulder
None of the few walkers I encountered at the preserve knew its history, but it seemed to me that the land had been a private estate on which a house had never been built or on which a house had been demolished.  The preserve entrance is located in the floodplain of Tamarack Creek, a perennial rarity in arid southern California.  The paved entrance drive crosses the creek, then ascends steeply several hundred feet to a bench of land that provides fine views eastward over the suburban development of Fallbrook to the mountains beyond.
Much of the land in the preserve looks like it needs to be rehabilitated--that it had been damaged by human manipulation as it was forced to be an estate showplace but had been neglected and was trying to recover.  There were numerous dead and dying trees, and groves of ornamental shrubs peppered the landscape.
Along Tamarack Creek

Root of California sycamore along the bank of Tamarack Creek


Jim said...

Hi Scott. The gall....is it full with a powdery substance? I have seen a few around here and they are very light weight and fall apart quite easily.

Scott said...

You know, Jim, I've come across many and varied galls but I've never cut them open to see what's inside! They are created when a wasp inserts her ovipositor into a plant to deposit an egg (and a caustic substance), and the plant responds by forming a protective structure that walls off the offensive substance and provides a home for the growing wasp larva. I can certainly imagine that the matrix of an older gall would dry up and form a powdery substance, but I've never investigated; now you've got me interested!

packrat said...

Scott: I'm happy to suggest a book or two that you might enjoy. I'd bet money that you've already read Aldo Leopold's "A Sand County Alamanac." (What a brilliant mind Leopold was.)

Here's a link to something I wrote for High Country News ten years ago now (yikes!) that you may find interesting, considering you're an ecologist. It's a problem that persists today here in the northern Chihuahuan Desert.