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:


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.

25 thoughts on “Apricot Sprites, aka ‘the anthropomorphic heart wood critters’ my Dad unearthed

      1. It’s an incredibly common disease. I know that plums are particularly susceptible, but don’t know about apricots. It’s most apparent in the fall – the dying branches turn color before the rest of the branches do, usually ones toward the top of the tree.

        Unfortunately it means that your tree is dying a slow death. It’s not worth taking the tree down unless the heartwood is being colonized by secondary rotters and/or colonial insects (termites, wood ants.) You’ll see boughs die off every year, best thing you can do is prune the dead and dying branches off each fall.


  1. Hi Daniel,
    I absolutely love that you have shared these images.It may be able to be explained away as a fungal disease ,though to me it does not take away from its Beauty and uniqueness.
    I am very interested if your father would sell one of the pieces,as I would like to make it into a necklace,I have a very strong connection with nature spirits and am attracted to these ,lokk forward to hearing back .xo


  2. I forgot to click the boxes to be notified of a reply so if you could reply to this message it would be great thank you xo


  3. Hmmm… nice but seriously?? and now you’ve cut ‘her’ to pieces what’s ‘she’ feeling about now do you reckon??? Keep the hell away from these big Humans, they cut you up and coat you in a plastic so you can’t breathe… haha… fun though…


  4. That is so amazing!! I am on board with Darlene! Is he willing to part with any of these?! I would absolutely love to have a piece too…


  5. I’m on board with the others who’d like a piece. I think it’s remarkable what nature can do. Poor tree though. I don’t know if there’s anything that can be done to help it but I know a lot of plants can fight off illness (fungus, etc…) if you boost up their immune systems. Roses and blackberries, for example, can fight off black spot if you give them epsom salts. May be worth looking into, anyway.


  6. wonderful. i found a perfectly hart shaped image after cutting acacia branches.

    would love to have a slice. selling any?


  7. Thanks so much for sharing these.

    I’m doing an art project on willow trees which led me to this. I have to add that I would also love a piece. Partly for the project and partly because they are stunning.

    If you don’t mind I’m going to blow up one of the pictures and get it printed and framed, it’s such a sweet reminder that while we have no definitive proof and that the nature of infinity means it could be coincidence we never know. That is the beauty of it, not knowing. Thanks again.


  8. Hi. These are so great! My particular favorite is the one on right,where looks like a dress and even the feet showing underneath..if you zoom in, you can actually see a face. Amazing, what secrets nature holds.


  9. Also..the tall one, looks like he is holding a knife in one hand. There is another that looks like they have either pointy glives on, or some5hing sharp in each hand…but the tall one …hmmmmmm.


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