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Green Balls That Grow on Trees: What Are They? (Answered)

Humans are naturally curious and when the mysterious natures start to unfold its unknown unseen parts, we humans tend to grow more interested to know the secrets. 

The green balls that you’ve been noticing for some days while taking a walk in the park are also a part of nature that’s rarely known. However, they are not unusual or uncommon at all. 

But since most of us are not familiar with this weird ball-like green thing, it’s absolutely okay to ask questions. Like what are they actually? Are they harmful or can you eat them?

Well, since you’re interested in these strange green balls hanging from the trees and paused here to ask, we’d request you to read ahead and find all the answers you’re looking for!

Green balls that grow on trees

The green balls that grow on the trees are galls. They are abnormally grown tree cells or tissue. Galls are mainly produced due to insect damage, hormonal reactions, or infections during the tree’s growing period. Galls aren’t toxic but cannot be consumed. However, it’s harmful to the ecology.

Often trees are seen with some fruit-like green balls that are not usual. If you’ve observed any Osage Orange or Oak tree carefully you’ve surely spotted those rough-based green balls and wondered what they are. 

Well, to let you know these are actually a part of the trees and are popularly known as galls. More precisely, the green shaded balls or galls are overgrown plant tissue. 

Galls are plant tissue but are not grown normally. There are some factors that act as gall producers in the trees. Such as insects, various types of bacteria, viruses, and other disturbances that do not grow the tree as usual.

Insects such as mites, wasps, and aphids live in the trees and reproduce as per their rituals. While feeding or laying eggs these insects use salivary secretions which react with the hormones of a tree. 

Basically the salivary secretions of the insects interrupt the tree during their growing phase and this makes the growth hormone increase at a high rate. An overly produced growth hormone results in abnormally grown plant tissue or cells which we know as galls. 

Apart from insects, galls can grow because of fungi or bacteria invasion, or infection through the nematode class of the plant. 

You will not spot galls in all types of trees. They are usually seen in oak, and Osage orange trees.

Galls have a rough base and they are dry inside. The upper shell too is quite dry and hard to remove. It cannot be consumed by humans since it contains no health properties. 

Moreover, a few types of galls are galls that contain sedatives like chemicals that can make people weak and drowsy. Other than that, galls do not contain any type of toxin. 

However, sometimes birds and deer are seen having galls or gall seed. But for humans, it’s best to use galls for other purposes rather than consuming, Such as decorating fruit bowls or repelling insects. 

Though galls are not very harmful to human or animal health it’s not good for the ecology. 

Why do green balls grow on trees?

The green balls that you often notice are called galls. These green balls or galls are actually abnormally grown parts of the tree.  

These rough-based green balls are interesting enough to make you ask questions about their whereabouts. Here we’ve explained the reasons why they grow: 

Due to mites or insect damage: 

Mites or other insects such as midges, wasps, and aphids are usually blamed for producing galls on the tree. 

In the growth phase of a tree, it gets affected by these insects’ salivary secretions as they lay eggs or feed their minors. Thus the growth hormone of a tree reacts negatively by producing more than the needed amount of hormone. 

And that’s when the tree starts developing tissue abnormally known as galls. 

Due to hormonal reaction: 

Trees require different types of hormones to grow. During the growth period if their growth procedure is disturbed by any third party such as insects or bacteria the hormones react. 

The tree then increases its growth hormones and thus produces green balls on the roots, buds, leaves, or on twigs. 

Due to infection:

Infection is another reason that green balls or galls on the tree. A tree can get infected by different nematodes such as worms, pinworms, roundworms, or even fungi and bacteria. 

All of these affect the natural growth of a tree by irritating the cells. That’s why the green balls grow as a result of deformation.  

Can you eat the green balls on trees?

The green balls on trees, popularly known as galls cannot be consumed. They aren’t edible for humans. However, a few types of animals such as squirrels eat them sometimes.

Galls are actually planted deformities. They grow when the plant tissues are damaged by mites or insects and the growth hormones go up because of their salivary secretions while feeding or laying eggs. 

Basically galls or the green balls are abnormally grown tissue that can be found on the roots, bark, buds and leaves. 

You cannot eat galls because they are not any normal fruit. Though galls reportedly don’t contain anything poisonous they aren’t healthy either. Many trees grow galls that are spiked all over and can be harmful to touch or consume. 

These green balls or galls taste weird and bad. Moreover, some of the galls can act as a sedative that are unnecessary and unhealthy for the human body. 

What kind of tree has green balls?

The following can have galls for several reasons –

Osage Orange Tree: 

Osage Orange can be labeled as an unusual one, yet doesn’t fail to produce fruits that look amazing. Osage Oranges are usually green in color and look like ordinary oranges. But the fruit, by taste, is not similar to any orange you have ever tasted. 

It is advised to get rid of fallen Osage Oranges to save nature and its ecology, and also to prevent your neighborhood from odorous litter by petty fruit.

Walnut Tree: 

A very unusual tree to have in your landscape, but still quite a handful in terms of providing nutrition and protein on a daily basis.  

The tree that produces fruit almost throughout the year, is only consumed when ripped and has changed its color from green to black or yellow! The green fruits are very beautiful to look at from far and it is worth having a tree in the backyard. 

London Plane Tree: 

The tree is capable of producing large scale shade with maple like leaves. The fruits in this tree are one inch in size, very green and share a similar genus with USDA zone 4, and so the fruit bears almost similar taste!

Chestnut Tree: 

Another nut, very tasteful and high in protein, commonly used in decoration and as an ornamental food topping. The fruit is covered in a beautiful shade of green and is around two inches in size. 

Additionally, the tree itself is very decorative to the landscape, producing large sheds and very beautiful flowers.

How do you remove galls from trees?

The abnormal growth on many parts of the tree such as leaves, branches, fruits and body is called galls. Galls are usually not much bigger, and can be found anywhere in the body. Here the steps you may follow to remove galls from trees

Identify the galls: 

First, you need to locate the infected areas in a tree. If you have noticed one, check all parts of the tree, branches, twigs, leaves, whether there are any indications of galls in the tree. Then, look for all the known systems to understand the extent of the gall infection. 

Remove galls from trees: 

Take a small saw or pruning shear that you can use to remove galls from the body. Cut down twigs and leaves if needed, and do not hesitate to do the same for largely infected branches. If galls are not properly removed, all actions will be pointless.

Destroy the removed galls: 

As these galls contain infected elements and insects, and are potent to contaminate other trees, it is wise to destroy them immediately. You can step over them, and if needed, you may also burn them.

Rake the grass: 

Rake the grass thoroughly so that no potent remains to grow galls again and stop any chance of contamination for other trees.

Take preventive measures: 

Putting bird feeders will help you control galls producing insect populations. Spraying Carbaryl when buds break in spring is also helpful to prevent further contamination. 

Final Thoughts 

Galls do look like fruits but they are actually deformed part of the tree that grows due to the increasing growth of some hormones. It’s when the trees are interrupted by any third factor the green balls grow. Galls are not edible but they are harmful either.