Mint Gall, Birds, etc.

Dinner time. Raasay lamb, well, sheep. Chops needing mint sauce so out the back gate to the mint forest. It is Mentha spicata or a hybrid close to it and a long-established garden escape.  It has galls!

Mentha gall

Mentha gall

Underside

Underside

This fails the first couplet in the Mentha galls section of the generally excellent book British Plant Galls:

1 Young shoot, including stem and leaves at shoot tip, deformed and distorted, sometimes affecting whole plant.

OR

1 Gall on stem or on individual leaves, not affecting whole plant, on Mentha aquatica.

On further investigation I found this:

Sporangia?

Sporangia?

which makes me think it’s a fungus. From images on the web it does not seem to be Puccinia menthae which affects many Mentha species.  Perhaps it is in fact Physoderma menthae, the one that in the key is listed only for M. aquatica. I can’t find any images of it but the book says stems and leaves with thick pustules containing golden sporangia which sounds encouraging….

Settling down for dinner there was a Great Northern Diver a few metres offshore and a grey seal cruised by. The first swallow appeared a few days ago but tonight there are quite a few. I haven’t heard a Raasay cuckoo yet this year.

 

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