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Sweet Gum Tree Facts

This article highlights sweet gum tree facts that you will find interesting. Brilliant fall color foliage, spiked fruits and ridged trunk are the identification features of sweet gum tree. For more sweetgum tree facts, read on...

Sweet gum, also spelled as sweetgum, is a highly popular landscaping tree in North America. With respect to its characteristic features, it is known by different names, like redgum, American sweetgum, alligator wood, star-leaved gum or simply, gumtree. One of the desirable sweet gum tree facts worth mentioning is its interesting fall foliage color. It is intense fall color attribute that makes sweet gum a popular ornamental tree amongst landscapers.

Facts about the Sweetgum Tree

The sweet gum tree is indigenous to the temperate climatic regions of America. Today, it in introduced in other regions as an ornamental cultivar, and also for harvesting lumbar. While most of the sweet gum types are deciduous trees, a few are semi-evergreen and evergreen trees. As expected, these evergreen varieties do not show any color changes in fall. To understand more about this spectacular tree, presented below are some American sweet gum tree facts.

Sweet Gum Tree Taxonomy
Sweet gum tree is a flowering plant that belongs to the order Saxifragales and shares family Altingiaceae with witch hazel tree. The scientific name for American sweet gum tree is Liquidambar styraciflua. The peculiar name is coined with reference to the sweet, resinous substances secreted by this tree. Previously, the bark exudate is used for making chewing gum.

Sweet Gum Tree Description
The adorable, cone shape canopy shape is another notable feature about sweet gum. At maturity, the trunk measures about 2 m in diameter and 20-35 m in height. Male and female flower buds develop in spring, in different branches. The compound fruits of this tree are commonly known as monkey balls and gumballs. Borne in fall season, they are spiked, hard, dry, round in shape (2.5-4 cm) and contain several capsules.

Sweet Gum Tree Leaves
The foliage is palmately lobed with pointed apex, and arrange in alternate phyllotaxy (leaf arrangement pattern). Do not confuse star shaped leaves of sweet gum tree with that of maple. Unlike maple tree leaves, they are glossy, thick and leathery. In active growing seasons, the leaves are lustrous and dark green in color. As fall arrives, the leaf color turns vibrant orange, red and purplish.

Sweet Gum Tree Growth
Sweetgum tree facts about growth rate is highly impressive. This medium to large sized tree, grows at a rapid rate. Hence, if you are relocated to a new place, and want some fast growing ornamental trees, consider growing sweet gum. Moist, acidic soil is excellent for planting sweet gum tree. As it establishes to the growing conditions over the area, sweet gum tree can tolerate brief drought period.

Sweet Gum Growing Requirements
As per plant data, sweet gum tree is adaptable to USDA hardiness zones 5-9. This deciduous tree grows best in sunlit areas, or locations that receive filtered sunlight. It is naturally found growing on the sides of streams, ponds, swamps and areas that remain moist at all times. You can either purchase tree saplings from nursery centers or propagate by means of viable seeds.

Sweet Gum Tree Wood
The wood of sweet gum tree is of superior quality, in terms of hardiness and texture. Commercially, it is the second most commonly cultivated hardwood tree, next to oaks. The harvested lumbar is marketed for flooring, veneers, cabinets, furniture and interior woodwork. This superior quality wood is applicable in the paper industry and in making boxes, baskets and other household products.

Sweet Gum Tree Drawbacks
Some of the problems faced with growing sweet gum tree are branches susceptible to breakage, increased snow accumulation in the ridged branches, and spiked fruits that do not decay quickly after falling to the ground. Since the gumballs are spiny and hard, they need to be removed regularly. Hence, before you go with the planting part, be thorough with the sweet gum tree facts about maintenance.

If your area is extremely cold, the sweet gum tree leaves may be damaged with the first frost, when they are still green in color. So, before including it in your landscape design project, confirm whether sweet gum tree will exhibit fall colors or not. Also, be prepared with the maintenance part. Remember that failure to cleanup fallen fruits may cause difficulty in walking over fruits and unwanted spread of this tree.

Well! This was all about sweetgum tree facts. The yellow-bellied sapsucker (a small species of woodpecker) loves the sweet resinous substance produced by this trees. It tends to peck the inside of wood for feeding purpose, thus creating holes in the sweet gum tree. I hope you find the above sweet gum tree facts interesting to learn.

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