While walking this morning, Scott, Tiger Lily and I came upon the red-and-orange leaves of a certain tree (pictured). I called it a liquidambar: Scott pointed out it had 5-pointed leaves, which he associates with maple trees. As he left for work, Scott challenged me to get the story on this particular large plant.
As is often the case, I had no need to search further than Wikipedia to find an answer:
Liquidambar styraciflua (American Sweetgum, Redgum) is a deciduous … medium-sized to large tree, growing to 20-35 m (exceptionally 41 m) tall, with a trunk up to 2 m diameter. The leaves are palmately lobed … looking somewhat similar to those of some maples. They have five sharply pointed lobes, but are easily distinguished from maples in being arranged alternately, not in opposite pairs. … The starry five-pointed leaves of the Liquidambar suggest the Sugar Maple.
The liquidambar has a very annoying, spiky ball that it drops in great numbers in the fall and winter. Which fruit is ‘popularly nick-named a “space bug”, “monkey ball”, “bommyknocker, “bir ball, “gum ball” or “sticky ball”‘ according to our source…