277: Oak Galls

277: Oak Galls

Brain Junk
Brain Junk
277: Oak Galls

An oak gall might look like an apple growing on the bottom of a leaf, but it’s really a snug home for baby oak gall wasps. Turns out, a gall is more than just a baby-bug playpen. Oak galls have been used for thousands of years to make ink. And, these teeny wasps are part of the reason why Alfred Kinsey had the chops to create his Kinsey scale of human sexuality.

image by: manfredrichter on pixabay

image below: The Ellesmere Chaucer, a beautifully decorated manuscript of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, was created between approximately 1400 and 1410, using iron gall ink for the text lettering. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Show Notes:

Instagram example of a gall

Davey Insect and Disease Research Center on oak galls

Making Ink from Oak Galls from The Huntington museum in California

Wikipedia on making oak gall ink (support Wikipedia if you can, they are a valuable resource)

UK’s Royal Horticultural Society on oak galls and wasps

American Museum of Natural History: Kinsey’s wasps

Natural History Museum, Los Angeles County (Trace adores this museum!) Oak Wasp Galls article

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