Oak apples are galls found on oak trees, near the midribs of the leaves. They are also called 'spongy oak apple', 'apple gall', and 'King Charles apple'.

The growths are smooth, spherical, and about 3-5 cms across. They appear as a green lump and darken with age, with most people thinking it is a normal crop of the tree (like a peach on a peach tree). Be warned - it isn't! Tasting it would, in the best case scenario, leave you biting into a mass of fibres held in an empty, dry, shrunk gall with a paper thin wall. The worst case scenario would see you biting into a juicy, white, spongy substance, and chomping into a hard cell in the centre where the larva of the cynipid gall wasp Biorhiza pallida resides. Mmm, tasty!

The galls are actually formed when the wasp lays eggs at the base of a vegetative bud, prompting the oak tree to form a protective structure around them.More detailed information on oak galls and gall wasps can be found at http://www.jmu.edu/biology/k12/galls/oakapp.htm , should you be fascinated by the topic.

I know what they are...now what to do with them??

If you have a belief in folk magic and have an oak tree, you can make your galls *do magic* if you suspect your child has been hit with the evil eye or bewitched. They will provide a tool for you to determine if it is so,or if you are just some highly superstitious, over protective parent.

Your easy to use directions:
----The procedure is meant to be done in strict silence, otherwise the reading may be inaccurate. ( Yes, that would screw up the entire scientific process, I'm sure.)
  • Cut three oak apples from a tree and put into a bucket, bowl, etc. of water.
  • Place bucket (or whatever) under child's cradle.
  • If apples float - the child is safe. If apples sink - the child is afflicted with some crazy curse. There is no provision for the apples behaving differently. If this happens you OBVIOUSLY weren't quiet enough.

Thankfully, the intuitive, divining oak apples have saved the day and let you know what the problem is, so you can fix your little one!

Oak apples or galls were the main ingredient of one kind of ancient and medieval writing inks. The other kinds of ink were fine grained carbon suspensions; lampblack, ground charcoal, or soot from burned grapevines.

Crushing and fermenting the galls, then adding the resulting sludge to iron sulfate (or "green copperas") creates a dark blue-black ink. The sludge is thinned with water, wine, or vinegar.Gum arabic gave the ink a smooth thick consistency; if the ink is too thin, it spreads across the surface of paper or parchment before it has time to sink into the fibers.

It is easy to try this recipe; ferment the oak galls for a few days in a jar of water or vinegar, with a few rusty nails for your source of iron. You don't really need the gum arabic to get some good dark ink. When you first write with it, the ink will look pale, but it darkens as it dries.

Rules made by E.B. For his children to learne to write bye, 1571

"To make common yncke of Wyne take a quart,
Two ounces of gomme, let that be a parte,
Five ounces of galles, of copres take three,
Long standing dooth make it better to be;
If wyne ye do want, rayne water is best,
And as much stuffe as above at the least:
If yncke be to thick, put vinegar in,
For water dooth make the colour more dimme.
In hast for a shift when ye have a great nead,
Take woll, or wollen to stand you in steede;
which burnt in the fire the powder bette small
With vinegre, or water make yncke with all.
If yncke ye desire to keep long in store
Put bay salte therein, and it will not hoare.
Of that common yncke be not to your minde
Some lampblack thereto with gomme water grinde"

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