It wasn’t until much later in life that I came across these prickly ball trees. In the backyard of my youth, my tree climbing with abandon days, we had mulberry trees and a huge sycamore tree. Every year the sycamore tree would put out these seed pods that when you pulled at them or smacked them against something they would burst into a cloud of fuzzy brown seeds. Boring activity which kept us kids occupied for all of a hot minute. Maple trees were fun because each spring when they would decide it was time to perpetuate the species, they would burst forth with all of these green seed pods that whirled about in the wind. We called them whirligig seeds. Botanists we weren’t!
They were fun as heck to play with because you could grab handful’s of them and toss them in the air to watch them spin and twirl in the wind. At one time the offspring when young actually planted a few and I believe they did grow to teeny tiny little trees. Alas, somebody ran them over with the lawnmower. The first time I ran into the prickly ball trees was when son entered kindergarten and his new school had several of the trees in the front of the building. Each fall the kids would be led out by their teacher to gather the “prickly balls” and use them to make arts and crafts to take home. The best one was a little Christmas tree made entirely of prickly balls and decorated with glue and sparkles.
I’ve heard tales from other readers (you guys know who you are!) about doing naughty things to siblings with the prickly balls when they were kids. I think son child even chucked a few at other kids after school playfully and probably his sister. Eh, that’s what siblings are for. Now the things are just a nuisance if they happen to be in your yard and you are the one who must rake them up and dispose of them. But one time they were fun.
At my recent photo outing I took these shots of the seed pods of a sweet gum tree. Wonder why they are called that?
Color adjusted to sepia. Gives it more of a wintery effect.