Sweet Gum Tree- Liquidambar Styraciflua
Sweet Gum Tree is a large native tree. The Sweet Gum tree can be named after its aroma that can be smelt from many feet. The Sap of this tree can be known to be exceptionally sweet smelling and has a consistency of chewing gum. The sap can be used for many years for medicinal uses by pioneers and Native Americans. The Sweet Gum Tree blooms in the springtime months with clusters of small white flowers. These later changes into spiky balls that contain black seeds inside that can be prized by birds as a tasty treat. Sweet Gum Trees have a scaly bark that resembles alligator skin.
The sweet gum tree is known as the American Sweetgum and botanically as Liquidambar styraciflua, but can be called hazel pine, red gum, star-leaved gum, alligator wood or sweet gum. This is a deciduous fast growing tree that can grow 4 feet per year and tree has an oval canopy. The leaves have a lobed star shape that is glossy green in summer. In the fall the leaves will turn yellow, red and a purple color before they fall from the branches. In spring the sweet gum tree will get pale green flowers that will develop into spherical and spiky shaped seed pods giving the tree more character. The seed pods can create new seedlings spreading the tree in new saplings. The seed pods have a hard exterior with sharp spikes while growing and when they fall from the tree. It is a stately tree that can be used in landscaping for its beauty and shade in yards or public locations. The sweet gum tree attracts cardinals, blue jays, doves, squirrels, chipmunks, other wildlife and luna moths. Parts of the tree have also been used in folk medicine for certain healing properties. This is a tree that has been used in making chewing gum and today the spiky balls can be used for crafts.