I have seen these trees all my life and somehow never wondered what they were. These trees are all over my neighborhood.
After taking these pictures, I decided to do a little research. The American sweet gum tree was originally named for the amber-colored sap that was scraped from the inside of the bark to produce a chewing gum-like substance.
Native Americans and pioneers used the sap for a number of medicinal purposes. The seed pods you see clinging to the branches and on the grass are sometimes called gumballs. I just know them as something to be avoided, cuz they hurt when you step on them.