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!