Sweetgum WoHeLo

Growing up in Nebraska, I didn't learn about sweetgum trees. School teachers and Blue Bird leaders helped me learn about maples, pin oaks, locusts, pines, balsams, Bradford pears, crabapples, willows, forsithias, pussywillows, lilacs, and cedars.

Nature-walking again with the elementary class. The students have magnifying glasses this time. We find some sweetgum fruits. They look like medieval maces. Camp Fire Girl leaders back in Nebraska would have a heyday spray-painting these splendid natural specimens before gluing them onto styrofoam wreath forms. Forget the acorns and fluffy sycamore balls, the Quaker Oats and Baskin Robbins containers and Contac paper. This is true craft nirvana!

I'm grateful for the awareness of nature I gained in my Blue Bird and Camp Fire Girl years. It's good to know when to sit upon your own sit-upon, when to put on insect repellent, and when to put our head between our knees to keep from fainting. It's fun to remember our group leader's awe-inspiring talent for twisting apples apart during long hikes.

Just wishing I could remember all the different beads:

Red--Sports and Games

These last four were for Creative Arts, Science, Business, and Home.

Chemists have found that the seeds of the sweetgum fruit — also called “gumballs” — contain significant amounts of shikimic acid, the starting material used to produce the main antiviral agent in a much-heralded drug for fighting bird flu. The finding could help increase the global supply of the drug, which is now in short supply, they say. Their study will be presented March 29th in Atlanta at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society.

© 2007 Nancy L. Ruder

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