Galls on Jack Pine

Plant diseases are infinitively fascinating.  This past weekend we saw excellent examples of galls on Jack Pine.  There were pine trees with galls in early stages all the way through to nearby pines with what were clearly older galls – well developed woody growths on the stems.

pine-pine gall rustpine-pine gall rust on Jack PineA little bit of research revealed that these galls go by a variety of names – at least on the internet.  According to Cornell University, a very credible and reliable source, the galls we saw are a symptom of “pine to pine gall rust” caused by a fungi – Endocronartium harknessii.  Most plant galls are caused by either fungi, bacteria or insects. Just like oysters making a pearl around a grain of sand, a disruption or irritation in the plant produces extra material. In the case of plants, hormones are generally produced as a response to the fungus in turn stimulating extra plant growth.  With these yellow galls, this extra plant growth provides a home for the fungus to produce spores and spread.

Our walks and hikes are such good opportunities to observe examples of the effects of different diseases on plants, I am reminded of long ago plant pathology courses.  And if you are interested in this area too, you may be interested in the post on black knot.


Peggy’s Cove Preservation Area

Peggy's Cove, Nova ScotiaExcellent day yesterday exploring Peggy’s Cove Preservation area.  The terrain is similar to Polly’s Cove – which is just across the road.  There is no single path, so we wandered over granite ridges and struggled through scrubby alder stands and bog when making our way from one ridge area to another.

Up on the ridges, the views to the ocean are wide and excellent.

Peggy's Cove Presservation Area, Nova ScotiaJust after we pulled into the parking lot another car arrived with 5 people who spilled out of the car, organized themselves and set off within a couple minutes.  This area is popular for bouldering and we came across the group later and they were indeed climbing a large rock face on a huge erratic.

The walking is easy on the ridges, but more difficult climbing onto these high areas and other spots are wet and boggy or have no path at all.  This area is easy to find along Prospect Road from Halifax.  My map has the location and our wandering trail is visible at

Spring flowers in Nova Scotia

painted trillium along Bluff Wilderness Trail in Nova Scotia

Lady's Slipper  along Bluff Wilderness TrailIt was a fabulous long weekend and there was time for so much more than usual  – a long hike, extra work, bike riding, a walk to the waterfront and lazing in the sun …

Some of the blooms we saw on our weekend walk/hike were painted trillium, pink lady’s slipper, rhodora, clintonia (blue bead lily), and northern starflower.

Even though these flowers bloom in the spring, they are not strictly speaking “spring ephemerals”. The Nova Scotia Wild Flora Society explains why. The bloom may be ephemeral but the plant itself is not so quick to fade.  Perhaps next time out we will see some real spring ephemerals, but being ephemeral…

Our hike along the Pot Lake Loop of the Bluff Wilderness Trail was just grand. Besides all the blooms, there were great views from high points on the trail. We stopped for lunch  on a granite rock above Pot Lake.  As we absorbed the quiet, a loon swam in the lake. Bluff Wilderness Trail, Nova Scotia The trail climbs up to the edge of a watershed and is somewhat rigorous. It is located in a wilderness area that is easily accessible from the HRM BLT trail, very close to Halifax. The Woodens River Watershed Environmental Organization supports this trail. They have done a great job and their website has excellent information about the trail, its natural environment and why they felt a trail would be a good thing.

If you drive to the area, parking is indicated on my map.