Sunday, April 19, 2009

The "Itchy Ball" Question

A very serious study. Are those balls on my plane tree the same thing as those "itchy balls" that Dianne has on her tree? My finding is - no way. You look at the evidence, and make your own decision.




These are Dianne's itchy balls.
(This is her photograph.)








These are the seed balls that I find under my plane tree. In my opinion, these are much softer and smoother. (I couldn't even find any whole ones today. They squish and explode almost as soon as they hit the ground.)


I think Dianne's itchy balls appear to be harder and sort of prickly.


So my verdict is that they are from two different types of trees. My plane tree also has bark that peels off very easily - sometimes in sheets. Is yours similar to that, Dianne? They could be in the same family of trees I guess. I don't know enough about the subject to tell.


This very serious study came about because I have posted a few pictures from time to time, on Sky Watch mostly, and have received quite a number of comments from people asking about "those balls" or "the fruits" on the tree. Then Dianne posted a photo today for Straight Out of the Camera, of what she calls "itchy balls" from her tree. So I was inspired to do a post on the subject.



It isn't as if there aren't deeper subjects to cover this month. Among others, it is Autism Awareness Month. It is also Poetry Month - another subject dear to my heart. I'll have to give that more thought before the month's end.

16 comments:

Dianne said...

it's been years since anyone showed so much interest in my balls!! I feel young again ;)

now on to science - they are very hard and prickly - have to wear gloves to pick them up. they clog things and never dissipate, you have to dig them out.

the tree they come from has very smooth, dark bark and doesn't peel - they also come from a tree behind me that looks entirely different - so who knows

Deborah Godin said...

Bobbie, and Dianne, too - I don't think your balls look like they are the same. (now there's a sentence I never thought I'd find myself typing) And there's never a tree or a ball expert around when you need one!

Lily Hydrangea said...

sounds like they are different trees. I'll bet it will be more obvious if you compare the leaves when they come out. It may be easier to locate the type of tree on the internet then too.
the balls definitely look different though.

Kay said...

I agree that they look like two different kinds of balls but maybe they're in the same family?

Fragrant Liar said...

Okay, I am chuckling right now. My sordid mind came over to investigate your itchy balls post title, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that you had not gone where my mind had gone with the subject. I do like those itchy ball pictures, and enjoyed your blog.

bobbie said...

My goodness. Seed balls on trees elicited enough interest. "Itchy balls" seems to have attracted even more :D Can't imagine why.

Kathiesbirds said...

What we need is a tree expert around here. Anybody know one? I'll see who I can dig up! Very funny post and title Bobbie!

Doug Taron said...

Kathie of Sycamore Canyon sent me here to weigh in on this question. They are different trees. The top photo is fruit from Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua). The bottom are from a Sycamore tree (also sometimes called Plane Tree, Platanus sp.). I hope this helps solve the mystery.

kenju said...

I wonder what kind of traffic that title is going to get you over the next year....LOL


Those are from 2 different kinds of trees. I have the same ones as in the top photo in my yard, but I cannot seem to remember the name of the trees they come from.

bobbie said...

Fortunately, I have my comments sent directly to my email. Easy to delete objectionable ones quickly.

LauraHinNJ said...

(Laura the tree nerd chiming-in)

Dianne's balls are from a Sweet Gum tree.

Yours, Bobbie, are from a Sycamore or London Plane.

Mystery solved!

bobbie said...

Thank you, Laura and Doug. I think we now know the answer to our questions. Do appreciate your help.

Pagan Sphinx said...

Dianne's balls are prickly and yours are soft and tickly. This in no way detracts from your respective charms, of course! ;-)

Dianne said...

my thanks to Laura and Doug as well, I was trying to look up the tree in a book and they all started to look alike

Kathiesbirds said...

bobbie, so glad you got the answers! What a fun post! I wondered if Plane trees and Sycamore trees were the same! I love the Sycamores we have down here but they mostly grow along creeks. Though I live in Sycamore Canyon, I have yet to see a sycamore tree here! I would love to have one in my yard. I can see them in Madera Canyon. I don't think I saw or noticed their seeds before.

Way to go Doug!

billy-b said...

This is hilarious.... I've been chuckiling for two days about these posts. Yesterday, my niece and I took her German Shepherd for a walk.... I found an "itchy ball" and remembering these from my youth, picked it up and brought it back to my brother's house. I asked him what tree they came from and he said that he didn't know, but we could Google it. You know where this is going.... He typed in "itchy balls" and after finding first a lot of "medical information" he refined the search: "itchy balls tree" and this led us to this blog.
Thanks for a good chuckle.