Weird Spruce Growths

Coolie gall on Picea pungens @ColoCollege 2003july6 LAH 096“My spruce tree has brown things all over it! Is it sick?” The caller was quite anxious. He had a beautiful Colorado Blue Spruce growing in his yard, and now it had some sort of weird alien growths at the ends of all the branches. Was it going to die?

Over the years that I volunteered at the master gardener help desk, we would often get calls like this. No, the caller’s tree wasn’t sick, not exactly. Those prickly, cucumber-shaped growths that show up on spruces from time to time are actually galls caused by an insect. They might look peculiar, but they weren’t going to cause significant harm to his spruce.

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Pollen Season

Ponderosa pollen_BlkForest-CO_LAH_7558-001For the past few weeks, my blue car has been yellow. Drifts of fine mustard-yellow dust cover our patio, our deck, and the floors indoors. I dust, and dust, and dust again; each time the rag comes up yellow. What is this dull yellow layer that covers everything? It’s pollen. More specifically, Ponderosa Pine pollen.

ponderosapollen - npsFor those of us who live with pine trees, the pollen season is a yearly event as predictable as the throngs of Miller Moths currently beating themselves to death against our windows, and happening at the same time of year. Because we had a lot of rain at the end of last summer, 2014 is particularly pollen-y. All those trees, once dying from thirst, have a new lease on life, and they’re taking full advantage.

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