Sweetgum Tree (Liquidambar styraciflua)
The tall trunks and shapely canopies of Sweetgum trees are easily overlooked in their native woodland settings, but they are standouts in spacious home landscapes. These trees derive their common name from the aromatic gum, or resin, that exudes from bruised stems. The Latin name translates to “liquid amber,” again referring to a the sweet-tasting resin. The Sweetgum is also known as Gumball Tree, Redgum, Star-leaved gum, Alligator-wood, and Gumtree. Sweetgums’ hardwood makes them resistant to wind damage and commercially useful for furniture.
More than one creative gardener and Sweetgum fan has struggled to find a use for its interesting, but prickly, gumballs produced by the tree. One of the more creative uses is as slug barriers. Collect the gumballs and then lay them down as mulch around plants vulnerable to slugs, such as hostas or lettuce. No guarantees but give it a try.
|Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)||At 20 years height is 20’ and spread is 12’. Mature height is 60 to 75’ with a spread of 30 to 50’. Growth rate medium to fast at 12 to 15 inches per year||Zones 5 to 9, full sun in moist acidic well drained soils. Can tolerate poor soils.|