LOOK: Strange ‘Dr. Seuss’ Flower Discovered in Texas
If you think this fuzzy polka-dotted flower seems familiar, you've probably cracked open a Dr. Seuss book. The wool sower gall looks like it has been plucked from a Truffula Tree in The Lorax, although its real-life origins are a bit more strange than the candy-colored fictional trees.
According to a Facebook post by the Atlanta State Park - Texas Parks and Wildlife, the "flower" is created when the wool sower wasp lays eggs in a white oak. In spring, the eggs hatch and the chemicals stimulate the plant to produce the colorful gall. Aside from looking like an adorable fluffy flower, this gall gives the wasps food and protection.
It's not actually a flower, after all. Galls are abnormal growths on plants due to insect activity. A report from Entomology Today revealed that young insects can live inside the gall, then make its way out as soon as it's a full-grown adult.
"How those fluids trigger the gall is unknown," John Tooker from the Penn State University explained in the report. "The best evidence suggests that the insect fluids are somehow influencing plant hormones, which are then influencing the gene expression that forces the gall tissue to grow, but there is a lot of hand-waving there."
Breaking the wool sower gall apart would reveal a number of small seed-like objects that contains developing wasps, according to a report from Mother Nature Network. While it looks delicate and fluffy, the gall is actually firm to the touch.
Abnormal growths like these galls can stir some concern for the health of plants and trees, but this fluffy ones reportedly do not have negative effects on the environment. They are also quite common throughout the country, so with some luck, you'll get to spot your own Dr. Seuss flower.