Sweet Gum Ball
Sweet Gum/Liquidamber styraciflua
The fruit, popularly nicknamed a "space bug", "monkey ball", "bommyknocker", "bir ball", "gumball", "conkleberry", "cukoo-bir" or "sticky ball", is a hard, dry, globose, compound fruit 2.5–4 cm in diameter and composed of numerous (40-60) capsules. Each capsule has a pair of terminal spikes (for a total of 80-120 spikes), and each capsule contains one to two small seeds. When the fruit opens and the seeds are released, each capsule is associated with a small hole (40-60 of these) in the compound fruit. The seeds are mostly spread by wind.
The dried ball, an inch to an inch and a half in diameter, hangs on the branches during the winter. The woody capsules are mostly filled with abortive seeds resembling sawdust.
Guest post by Jo Smith.
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