Apricot Sprites, aka ‘the anthropomorphic heart wood critters’ my Dad unearthed

A week ago, my dad was pruning one of the many stone fruit trees in his yard in Los Angeles and came upon an eery woodland lady (click for full size):

My dad is coating the slices in acrylic for preservation, and keeping an unperturbed sample under lock and key in preparation for a visit from the SEG (Search for Extraterrestrial Gnomes).

Has anyone seen anything like this in tree cuts? I was pretty freaked. The first lady may resemble my mom if I squint. Perhaps her spirit animal entered the tree during a watering one afternoon. BTW: of course mum has a garden-themed blog avantgarden.org and she helped start the Santa Monica College organic garden.

From a brief search, I found a spotting of Jesus in a cabinet at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Wareham, Massachusetts, but nothing like this. Post your wood creatures in the comments!

A knowledgeable plant dude writes:

The discoloration in the heartwood is caused by a systemic fungal infection called Verticillium wilt. You can read more about it here:

http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/r5101111.html

The “normal” colorization is from the tree’s attempt to compartmentalize the damage and grow healthy tissue within it.

I’ve also heard back from the Internet in the form of a moose posted in the comments:

Pretty spooky.