Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sweet Gum Ball

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.
(Source:  Wikipedia)

Guest post by Jo Smith.


Celebrate a tree in 2011.  It's easy:  Observe, photograph, sketch, or discuss and share with other tree huggers.  Please visit The Tree Year 2011 to participate or find other blogs post dedicated to trees from around the world.




Pat - Arkansas said...

Several years ago, I had a tall sweetgum tree in my front yard. It was toppled by a strong wind after weeks of rain. I miss its shade, but I surely don't miss the gum balls. :)

Nice photo, Jo

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I hadn't heard of all of those funny names for the gum balls before Jo. I am glad you posted these. Some of them sound better than "gum"ball to me.

Sue said...

My goodness I've never heard of any of those names for the liquidamber seedpod! My childhood home had a huge one in the front yard. The photo is delightful - I've never seen one with snow on before either. It looks like a delicate little Christmas ornament.

Unknown said...

Lovely shot!
I've never heard of that tree before.
Don't know if we have anything similar in Europe :)