John Duarte brought in this specimen of a twig and leaves of a (presumed) ficus. The homeowners were thinking that the spots on the stem were a scale insect. I don’t think so. In looking at it, and thinking it over, I wondered if the spots were just a natural part of the plant. If so, then what advantage would these darkish bumps provide the tree? And examination revealed that some spots had cracked open, or had a rotted out center, suggesting this may not be the case.
The photos show the leaves, which look fine, and there is along sequence of pictures, starting at a leaf and working down to older stem wood. The fresh growth has no bumps, and when the first bumps appear, they are small. Only further down the stem do the bumps turn dark and show evidence of decay.
I wonder, then, if these dark bumps are a fungal or bacterial infection. Other than their presence, the plant looks perfectly fine. It reminds me of the Eutypella bumps on buckeye.
Steve Deaver brought in a sample of tarweed from Valley Springs. We examined it under the microscope. Thrips were common, particularly on the flowers.
The autumn of 2018 was a mast year for acorns in the Sierra Nevada foothills. The valley oaks, Quecus lobata, on my property, in Columbia California, produced prodigious quantities of acorns. I had noticed some size variation between the valley oaks located in different parts of the property, and did not think much of it. When I was at the massive house fly invasion job, I noticed that the acorns there were gigantic, far bigger than those at my house.
These giant acorns were coming off large valley oaks that grew along a year-round stream. The stream, on a cattle ranch near Chinese Camp, was fed by a spring, and it even had minnows in it, California roach, a fish that can survive in intermittent streams. A couple of the valley oaks on my property grow along a season creek, which had not had water since spring.
It appears that acorn size may be related, at least in part, to the water available to the tree when the acorns are growing.
These photos show the remarkable size variation in valley oak acorns.
Valley Oak A is from the Chinese Camp trees, fed by a year-round creek.
Valley Oak B is from across the street from property, from a huge and old valley oak growing alongside a season creek. The creek had water in the winter and dried up mid-spring.
Valley Oak C is from my property, from a somewhat smaller valley oak, and has larger acorns than the largest of my oaks. It is more downhill from “B”.
Valley Oak D is from across the street from my house, nowhere near a creek, uphill from the other oaks. IT appears to be the most water starved of the four oaks compared.
At about 10:45 pm, 8 July 2018, we heard loud crackling sounds, followed by breaks, crackling and thuds. Heather and I went over, using spotlights, and found that a number of branches of large valley oaks had broken off. I took these photos the next morning. It appears that five large branches fell, from three different valley oaks. A dominoes effect must have occurred, with one very high branch taking down another, high branch on a different tree, and they took out everything beneath them.
Although there are larger manzanita trees, this one is notably tall, approaching 20 feet, that Craig Konklin is standing next to. Located off Shaws Flat Road, Sonora, Tuolumne County.