Q: We found from one of the trees in the back yard a small ball about the size of a golf ball with spiny projections eminating out of it competely around the ball. It also had one thicker stem from which it hung from the tree. In between the spiny projections are little round openings which may have contained some type of seed. We looked closely at the trees till we found the one which had more on the branches and found the bark to be very tight in weave pattern and the leaves sort of resembled a maple.
A: It’s gotta be the seedpod from a sweetgum tree! Do the leaves have five “fingers” (lobes)? Teach your young forester to identify the tree by remembering that he would reach for some “sweet gum” by extending his five fingers to get it.
And while you’re at it, teach him to remember the redbud tree by its heart-shaped leaves. (“What pumps through your heart? Red blood of course! That means this is a redblood (redbud) tree!”)