Friday, November 06, 2009

SkyWatch Friday: Blue Sky and Sweetgum Leaves




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.




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11 comments:

uproad said...

oh, beautiful! the colours of the leaves against the blue sky make a remarkable impression!

J Bar said...

great stuff
Sydney - City and Suburbs

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Beautiful blue sky Marvin. Happy SWF. I have never heard the sizzle of the descending seeds of a gum tree. I would love to though.

Larry D said...

Great skies. Our "gumball" trees exploded with color here lately as well.

JOE TODD said...

Nice photos but cleaning up under a sweetgum tree is a real pain.Thanks for your post

Pat - Arkansas said...

Beautiful photo, Marvin. Makes one's heart leap with joy.

I used to have a large sweet gum in my front yard, and it produced hundreds upon hundreds of those prickly seed balls. It came down during a high wind after a particularly wet period. Didn't hit anything of value, but plowed up my neighbor's putting-green quality lawn! I miss the tree, but not the gum balls.

Wren said...

I don't think I connected those little prickly balls with sweetgum trees or their beautiful fall leaves. Great skywatch!

MObugs said...

I see these prickly little balls all over in NWMO when I am out hiking, I always wondered what tree produced them....now I know. Thanks for the great post and beautiful photos.

Louise said...

LOVE this post. Sweetgums were my favorite trees in the Ozarks, I think. Their color lasted longer than any other, and the variety of colors on one tree was terrific. I like your commentary--especially about the lawn mower projectiles!

Dave Ingram said...

Nice contrast between the leaves and the sky - liked the information about the sweetgum too.

WR said...

the seed pod is fabulous...love organic abstracts!