Today is Day 92 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.
“Fall is in the air,” or maybe a more appropriate phrase would be, “Fall is on the ground.” Walking is getting treacherous these days because I have to dodge seeds, pods, and cones that are dropping from trees and littering the sidewalks and streets. The squirrels can’t pick them up fast enough.
Magnolias – They drop huge, green, scaly cones that contain red seeds. According to the U.S. National Arboretum the cone isn’t really a cone, but a woody fruit. Really? Look at the picture (on the right). Looks like a cone to me. 🙂
Liquidambars aka sweetgums – The leaves of these trees put on a stunning show of color during the fall, but starting in September they drop hard, spiky seed balls that can trip walkers and skaters – and be very painful for bare-footers.
Birch Trees – Their long, soft, dangly seed pods are messy but not a real trip hazard.
Oaks – We have two prevalent varieties in California: the Valley Oak and the Coastal Live Oak. Both drop conical-shaped acorns that the squirrels hoard with glee. They also drop round, brownish-red balls called galls or oak-apples (see photo) that are really a home for wasp larvae. A wasp deposits eggs in the base of a leaf bud which causes the oak tree to form a structure around the developing larvae to protect the tree from harm. Grown wasps exit the galls by drilling little holes in them, and eventually the galls fall off of the tree. Galls don’t harm the tree at all. To learn more click on the links above.
Sequoias or Redwoods – These huge trees drop hard, ball-shaped seed cones about the size of a large strawberry. National Geographic offers a free video that explains how the trees depend on fire such as the Rim Fire or Yosemite Fire in order to reproduce.
Pines – We have a few varieties in our neighborhood that drop big, spiky pine cones. There’s even a Coulter Pine that drops gigantic cones (8-14 inches or so) that people often use for fall and winter crafts and gifts.
It’s a mine field of seeds, pods, and cones right now, so be careful out there! Of course, these little nature hazards make great materials for fall crafts. I may collect some on my next walk to create an autumn wreath.