Answer: They may be scale or some sort of fungus, both of which have evolved to survive just about anything! Most should die if your compost really heats up (140-160F). The saving grace is that if the host plant is a tree, the likelyhood of the pest infesting your garden plants is low. To be absolutely sure, you can have the extension service (908/431-7260) identify the "growths". Go ahead and rake the leaves, but pile them separately until you get the okay from extension.
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