The balls are seed pods, and when broken open, they are full of floaters similar to cottonwoods. The bark is thin and papery, much like a white paper birch.
The tree you could be referring to might be the Platanus occidentalis (also known as the Sycamore Tree). The Sycamore’s bark consists of tan, gray, and brown colors and peel to reveal a smooth white texture. The Sycamore also features leaves that look like maple leaves and fruits that resemble balls. These seed balls open in early spring to disperse small seeds.
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