On Top of Spaghetti


On top of spaghetti, 
All covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball, 
When somebody sneezed.

It rolled off the table,
And on to the floor,
And then my poor meatball,
Rolled out of the door.

It rolled in the garden,
And under a bush,
And then my poor meatball,
Was nothing but mush.

The mush was as tasty
As tasty could be,
And then the next summer, 
It grew into a tree.

The tree was all covered,
All covered with moss,
And on it grew meatballs,
And tomato sauce.

So if you eat spaghetti,
All covered with cheese,
Hold on to your meatball,
Whenever you sneeze.

This song is also a book, a book that my children love to read. And maybe it’s because I have read these lyrics at least 100 times with them, but as I look out the window, I can’t help but to see “meatballs” hanging from the trees!


Ok…so they aren’t really meatballs…but you probably already knew that. But they sure do look like it on this particular tree I see almost every day!

Behind the Seasongood Nature Center at Woodland Mound, we have a Sycamore tree. The so called “meatballs” are actually one-inch seed balls, or achenes, and they hang from a stalk that is roughly three to five inches long. The seeds hang on the trees throughout the winter and come springtime, they start to fall apart. Every achene has hundreds of seeds. Each individual seed has tufts of hairs to help it glide through the air away from the parent tree. Sycamore trees tend to grow near water, and often the seed balls will fall into the water and be carried off to grow in new places. The seeds will also be eaten by birds and other animals that eat them and poop them out somewhere new. These seeds can still grow into new trees! Goldfinches, Carolina Chickadees, Purple Finches, Mallards, Beavers, Muskrats and Gray Squirrels will all eat sycamore seeds.

I can’t help but wonder if they top off spaghetti with these meatballs! I think I’ll stick to the ground beef ones.

Julie Robinson, Naturalist