Surface Roots Appear At Base Of Tree
The Sweetgum Tree is vulnerable to compacted soils and will produce surface roots in that environment. For solutions see the file Dealing With Tree Surface Roots
Young Seedling Dies
Seedling From Wrong Part of Country - If a Sweetgum seedling dies for no apparent reason, it may be due to climate. Because Sweetgum trees grow over a wide area in the U.S., they have had to adapt to the climates of both the warm South and the cooler North. Only seeds produced by Sweetgums in the South will successfully grow in the South, their genetic make up programming them to handle the heat there. Seeds produced by Sweetgums in the North will produce young trees that can handle the shorter light days and cold of northern winters. It is important to buy young trees that are appropriate to the region where you live.
Leaves Yellow, Veins are Green
Alkaline Soil - Chlorosis, or yellowing of the foliage is sometimes a sign that a plant is not able to take up enough iron from the soil. This is often because the soil is not acidic enough. Although Sweetgums are able to tolerate soil with some alkalinity, sometimes it becomes too alkaline and the tree develops an iron deficiency. To make the soil more acid sprinkle powdered sulfur or used coffee grounds on it for the rain to soak in. Avoid using limestone, or wood ashes as soil amendments. Check to see if mortar from brick or stonewalls are leaching into the soil near the tree and making it more alkaline.
Ends of Branches Turn Black
Frost Damage - In areas where the fall has been mild, trees may put out new growth up to and beyond the normal frost date. These twigs, buds and branches are particularly vulnerable to a sudden drop in temperature because they have not had time to mature properly. They are killed by the frost and turn black. Usually trees do not sustain any permanent harm. Do not fertilize with quick acting nitrogen fertilizer in the fall, which stimulates this growth.
Holes in Leaves
Caterpillars - Caterpillars and larvae of moths occasionally infest Sweetgum trees. Tent caterpillars, bagworms and others feed on foliage, chewing holes in leaves. Their ravenous appetites can defoliate entire branches and possibly kill a young tree.
Dark, Damp Stain on Bark
Bleeding Necrosis - This fungal disease is signaled by the presence of a dark stain on tree bark within a few feet of the soil line, or rarely, up higher on the trunk. The tree looks as if a can of oil has been poured on the bark. Inside the tree the inner bark shows a dark reddish brown stain. Pockets of a white crystalline substance develop with the tissues. Infected trees show undernourished foliage, the ends of branches may begin to die back. Experts speculate that raising the soil grade around the tree, by drought or other environmental stress, fosters this disease. There is no effective treatment known. Remove and destroy the diseased tree.