WOW-Sweet gum trees!

Posted on 11. Feb, 2018 by in WOW! Blog

One of the common trees in our area is the sweet gum or Liquidambar styraciflua. This tree is familiar to most of us as the one that produces the prickly sweet gum balls that fall on the paths and are uncomfortable to walk on barefoot. But the tree is beautiful and can grow quite tall- 75 ft. Children enjoy collecting the balls and making decorations out of them. I remember spraying them with gold or silver metallic paint and hanging them on the Christmas Tree. Also, stacking them into a tree-like pile to make a table decoration can be fun too. I have also known some dogs that like to carry them around in their mouths! The leaves are star shaped and sometimes confused with maple leaves but careful examination shows the difference. They have nice color in the fall. The genus name Liquidambar refers to the fact that the tree produces a resinous sap which I believe has various industrial uses. Overall, it’s a great tree to have around. But there are other things about this tree that are interesting as you can learn by reading the articles below. The first tells about the fact that an ingredient in tamiflu is found in seeds of the sweet gum.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/07/nyregion/sweet-gum-tree-tamiflu.html

And this article gives some more fun ideas of things to do with sweet gum balls. http://futurefarming.org/never-knew-sweetgum-balls/ And, because it is a native plant it is a great food source for our native birds and wildlife. If you have a sweet gum tree near you, enjoy it!

https://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_list2.pdf

 

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