Saturday, May 5, 2012

Alien Invasion?

Last spring, this tree (I'm not sure what kind of tree it is, exactly.) was damaged by another tree that fell onto it during a storm.

While checking out the damage, we discovered these strange growths all over the tree. They are hard and dark brown with dimples on them, which remind me of brains, in a way. I figured it was some weird tree disease, but I couldn't find anything online to determine what it was, and since the tree was doing well, we did nothing.

A few days ago, we noticed that the growths had gotten larger and they had sprouted horns. I thought this was odd, but didn't get a photo. Now, I wish I had because things got really, really weird after that. Two nights ago, we had a large thunder/hail storm. Yesterday evening, while playing outside, I noticed something from across the yard: the tree looked really different. The growths had transformed into BIG bright orange blobs. Upon closer inspection, this is what we found.

These things had transformed overnight into HUGE alien beings with long gelatinous tendrils in a garish shade of orange. I was afraid to touch them, but I had to find out more... For example, how big had they gotten? I went back inside and grabbed a ruler. The anemone-like things were about 2 inches wide and 2 inches long and really, really creepy looking.

Brett told me that I shouldn't have even touched the things because I may now have an alien being growing inside of me. (I'm not going to lie. I wondered the same thing myself, but curiosity won out.) Plus, it will lead to some really interesting blog posts if it turns out that I am incubating an alien baby.) So, I picked one of the globs off the tree. Aren't I brave? I had to get a closer look... This is totally gross by the way. I brushed up against a tentacle and some slime got on my skin. (And, yes, I briefly panicked that I had just absorbed alien DNA before laughing at myself and wiping it off. We'll just call this a close encounter of the squishy kind.)

Some research led to this new knowledge: we have a tree, probably a juniper or cedar of some sort, and it is sick with a really, really weird disease (okay, that wasn't a surprise at all) called cedar-apple rust disease. (This year it was helpful to be able to Google "weird orange growth on tree" instead of just "brown growth on tree." Apparently, that turns up much more relevant and helpful stuff.) We don't have any actual apple trees in our yard or in the neighborhood, at least none that I am aware of, but we do have a crab apple tree. I am fond of the crab apple tree since it has pretty flowers in the spring and the blue birds enjoy eating the fruit during the winter, which we can watch from our kitchen window. For the time being, our cedar/juniper/whatever-it-is tree is thriving. It's even bigger than last year, so I see no reason to do much of anything except maybe cut off the brown thingies should they continue to emerge. The gelatinous masses have "melted" since yesterday, so I am hopeful they will dissolve completely and I won't have to touch them again. (Really, I can't be too careful when it comes to the possibility of incubating an extraterrestrial, you know?) See here how the tentacle thingies have been "reabsorbed" into the glob. (And notice how I have such amazing technical and scientific jargon to toss around? I'm not just a pretty face, you know.)

I know the orange Jell-o growths are disgusting and ugly, but the tree is at the back of the property line so we don't go over by it all that much. I am thinking of just letting it be, and honestly, I am wondering what the next stage will be, if there is one. However, if this weird symbiotic disease starts to affect the health of the crab apple tree I may need to do something about it. Fingers crossed that I don't have to do anything besides sit back and watch our tree growths evolve. (And wonder how long alien offspring take to incubate...)

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