Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Liquidambar Styraciflua

Spiky Ball of the Devil
Aka Sweetgum tree. If you have ever lived in the South East with one of these trees in the yard, or in your neighbors yard, or in a park close by, or really anywhere, you know what a Sweetgum ball is. Those prickly little brown balls that fall from the Sweetgum trees by the billions every time the slightest wind blows. Making your yard look like a real life Minesweeper game. Tiny little angry balls of hard spikes all over, some sitting out in plain sight, some covered by leaves for you step on while wandering the yard barefoot and scream like you've been stabbed. Which you have been. By a Sweetgum ball.

I actually did a little research on this tree this weekend because there is a huge Sweetgum tree in our front yard and we are endlessly stepping on them or they get stuck in Bob's paw and he hobbles around until we dig them out for him (its pretty hilarious actually). Basically though, I wanted to know if there was anything I could do to make the huge tree in our yard stop shedding these little balls of knives. Turns out there is nothing that can be done.

At least they are pretty in the fall.

It also turns out that they are actually kind of neat trees. (*pushes up glasses with finger*). Sweetgum trees are aromatic and the balls of knives are actually its flower. Cruel little flowers but flowers nonetheless. Each "flower" can house up to 50 seeds which means they are pioneer plants and tend to grow their own little forests if allowed. They house Luna and Prometheus moths. They also feed and house a crazy variety of fungus and animals for a tree.

Needless to say, that kind of took the wind out of my sails about hacking the thing down. I guess we will learn to live with the little balls. Or wear shoes. You know, for the sake of the wilderness and all.

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