Have you ever stepped on a spiky sweet gum ball in a neighbor’s yard? If you were barefoot that day, it was probably an unpleasant encounter. These dried seed balls are fruit that fell from a tall, unique tree called a Sweet Gum. Today, Nixa Lawn Service shares some facts about sweet gum trees. Whether you’re a tree expert or you’ve never heard of them, we hope you enjoy the read.
Sweet Gum Tree Names
American sweetgums (Liquidambar styraciflua) are part of the Witch Hazel family. Other common names include gum trees, redgum, satin-walnut, star-leaved gum, alligator-wood, hazel pine, and American storax. The resin that the tree produces is actually not sweet, but it is used in chewing gum.
Identification, Longevity, and Wildlife
Sweetgum trees are tall and straight, reaching a height of 75 feet or more. They can live for more than 150 years. The tree has a spreading oval canopy, and its star-shaped leaves make it easy to identify.
Sweetgum trees attract wildlife, such as squirrels, chipmunks, songbirds, cardinals, blue jays, and doves. Birds enjoy the food, shelter, and nesting sites that the tree provides.
Habitat and Conservation
In Missouri, sweetgum trees are popular in urban areas, but they’re planted statewide. When planted in landscapes, the trees grow rapidly and are rarely attacked by pests. The foliage is vivid green in the spring and summer and turns various shades of red, pink, gold, and purple during the fall.
The small spring flowers develop into 1-1.5 inch gumballs that hang in clusters. In late summer and fall, these spiny fruits change from green to brown. Over the months, they fall to the ground.
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Advice for Planting and Care
If you have an open landscape on your property, sweet gums can provide excellent summer shade. They will need lots of room to grow, both above and below ground. It’s best to plant them in the spring when young, located away from driveways and sidewalks. Also, the tree prefers deep, moist soil and a location in full sun. Sweet gums don’t need much care once they’re established, but they drop plenty of leaves and gumballs. Rake or sweep them up to prevent a hazard in the yard.
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Request a Quote on Tree Services
While our name is Nixa Lawn Service, we also offer landscaping and tree services. Whether you want new trees planted in your yard or you need old ones maintained, we can help. You can request a quote online or call us directly at (417) 724-0318. We look forward to hearing from you.