Our Sweetgums (Liquidambar styraciflua) are the only trees in this area having colorful leaves still attached. All the rest have fallen to the ground, helped considerably by lots of wind and rain during October.
The Sweetgum balls are still green and well attached to the tree. Each ball contains hundreds of tiny Sweetgum seeds. Seed disbursal comes in early to mid-winter when the balls dry and open while still attached to the tree. If conditions are just right -- a sunny, dry day with a gentle wind -- all the balls seem to open at once. You can hear a subtle sizzling-like sound as thousands of tiny seeds fall to the dry leaves beneath the tree.
A dried and open Sweetgum ball after it has fallen from the tree. In a "good" year the ground beneath each Sweetgum tree is littered with hundreds of balls. Stepping on one while barefoot is not recommended -- and they make wicked projectiles when shot from beneath a lawnmower.
Click the logo above to participate and/or find more SkyWatch photos from all over the world.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.