Update on Gallformers.org

Continuing the discussion from Announcing Gallformers.org, an ID guide for plant galls in North America:

We’ve now been operating Gallformers.org for over a year, so I wanted to give an update on what we’ve achieved, what we’re hoping to do next, and how you can help.

Our database is now essentially complete for galls (including undescribed galls) known from oaks, hickories, hackberries, maples, poplars, and willows. Other hosts are still under construction, including elm, goldenrod, grape, and rose. Overall, we currently have entries for 2735 galls on 1330 hosts, including 917 undescribed galls.

We’ve recruited a wonderful community of gall-interested naturalists in our slack channel; anyone who would like to learn more about galls or even to potentially contribute to improving the site is welcome to join.

You can also follow us on Twitter, where I try to post updates on galls to look for in different parts of the country in each season, share cool gall pics, and highlight noteworthy recent iNat observations.

We recently launched a Patreon campaign and within the first two days received enough pledges to cover the cost of operating the site. We plan to keep the site and all ID assistance we provide on iNat completely free, but we will be able to improve and complete the site much more effectively with more funding. We don’t offer individual backer rewards other than the opportunity to vote on which hosts we complete next, but we do have several community goals planned. If we can raise $150, we will commit to adding a complete new host genus to the ID tool every month. At $250, we’ll host Twitch streams of one of our admins doing gall ID and answering questions at least twice a month (I know this is something people have expressed interest in on the forums in the past). At $1000/month, I want to set up a program where we use our funds to pay bounties for successfully rearing adults of undescribed and scientifically interesting gall inducers.

The one big thing we need help with right now is making technical improvements to the site. I have some ambitious and useful features in mind as well as some minor things that need to be fixed, but regardless of how much money we raise, we don’t really have anyone capable of doing the work.

My current ambition is to timeline for each gall that adjusts by location, so users can look at a given species and get an estimate of when to look for it, when adults are likely to be present, etc, and to generate calendars that would tell users what cynipid adults are likely to be present at a given time or when to look for galls meeting certain criteria throughout the season. To achieve that, it would be useful to collaborate with people who are familiar with 1) insect phenology modelling 2) geographical interfaces on websites and 3) using APIs like iNat and NPN to acquire and manipulate datasets.

Thanks again to everyone who has been uploading gall observations, and especially to those who have given permission or chosen licensing to let us use their photos. The site would be much less useful and beautiful without your work!

If you are new to galls, early spring is a very important time to look for them. Keep an eye out especially for phylloxera galls on hickory, which form early in the season and are abandoned and dry out by the mid or even early summer (please photograph both sides of the leaf for these!), and for oak bud, flower, and early leaf galls. Both are great opportunities to be the first to observe a species on iNat or help us expand our knowledge of range and phenology for rarely observed galls!


Thank you, Adam, and everyone who contributes to the site! I’ve learned so much this year from gallformers.org and your IDs on iNaturalist.


Anyone who is interested in contributing technically you can reach out to me for more details. The tech stack is React, Typescript, and next.js with a sqlite DB. There are a million things I would like to do to both add more features and to improve the technical operations, I just do not have the time to do it all! All of the code is open source and is on Github.


Gallformers rocks! I use the site constantly to look up my finds. And thank you for all the ID help you’ve given here on iNat as well - I doubt I would have gotten particularly interested in galls without the enthusiasm the inat gall community showed over the first few I posted.


Awesome work, and congrats on the progress!


Super resource!

This is really wonderful work!

And I would like to note there is a whole ‘nother world that may open when you start hunting for galls.

Your earlier posting a year or two ago lead me to start exploring for galls and the tiny creatures that live in many trees and shrubs. As fun as it is to find a gall (and it is fun), by looking closely in trees and shrubs for galls, I see many other interesting species and evidence of said beings. E.g., assorted birds, squirrels, dusky footed wood rats, so many insects and spiders, lichens, mosses, etc.

My most intriguing find (to me) are timemas that hang out between closely growing leaves in live oaks (and other plants). I think they are especially sweet as the larger female carries the male on her back and then they wander around dropping off eggs.

Thank you for all your ID help! Thank you also to @merav for bioblitzes and @nancyasquith for taking me on an exploration and many IDs.


This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.