|Witch Hazel flowers - Hamamelis virginiana|
I recently spotted a Spiny Witch Hazel Gall among some Witch Hazel flowers.
Last summer I took this photo of some Spiny Witch Hazel Galls along with a leaf rolled by a leaf-roller caterpillar into a nifty leaf-shelter.
|Spiny Witch Hazel Galls and the leaf-shelter of a leaf-roller caterpillar|
|Spiny Witch Hazel Gall|
All year long the spiny galls remind me of the aphid's amazing and complex two-year life-cycle which involves living on birch leaves part of the time and some of the time on Witch Hazel. Here is a link to an overview of the aphid's life-cycle.
Sometimes alongside the galls are the seed pods of the Witch Hazel. They are similar in size and shape... minus the spines. Witch Hazel uses an explosive seed dispersal method. The seed pods act as double-barrel cannons. In the late fall/early winter the seeds begin to dry out and open slightly. As the seeds continue to dry and contract, pressure is exerted on the seeds until, pow, the seeds are shot a considerable distance.
Here's lookin' down the barrel of a loaded double-barrel Witch Hazel seed cannon.
|Witch Hazel seeds|
The glare at the bottom of this photo is from the sky reflecting off of a creek.In all three of these seed pod pictures, notice how all of the seed pods are held at a skyward angle to maximize each seed projectile's trajectory.
Another noteworthy sight (and one of the many things I hope to post about) on the Witch Hazel bush, is the Witch Hazel Cone Gall, or Witches Cap Gall, caused by an aphid, Hormaphis hamamelidis.
|Witch Hazel Cone Gall|
|Winterbloom, or Witch Hazel, blooming in December|
A Witch Hazel bush is well worth appreciating anytime of the year.