News and Blog Articles
News and Blog Articles
The American Sweetgum tree is scientifically known as Liquidambar styraciflua, and known colloquially in different areas as the American storax, hazel pine, bilsted, redgum, satin-walnut, star-leaved gum, alligatorwood, or even just sweetgum.
If you’re like us, though, then you just know this tree as “the tree that makes those spiny gumballs I used to play with as a kid and only ever seemed to step on when I was barefoot and therefore vulnerable.”
The reason you find them almost everywhere is because the sweetgum is a monoecious species, which means each tree has both male and female reproductive organs—in this case, pistillate and staminate flowers (each flower will contain one or the other, but never both).
The sweetgum is one of the fastest-growing trees around, clocking anywhere from 13 to 24+ inches a year. Once established, the tree takes on a pyramidal or egg-like shape, and will continue to grow at rapid rates. On average and without human interference, sweetgums will live for hundreds of years, reach heights of 60 to 75 feet, trunks 2 to 5 feet in diameter, and crown spreads of 40 to 50 feet!
Did You Know?
The American sweetgum is especially resistant to attack by insects, which makes them common trees to plant in reforestation projects and reclamations of former mineral mines. They can also fix nitrogen and promote soil health, making them popular choices for ecosystem restoration.
If you can tolerate the prickly gumballs all over your yard, the American Sweetgum is a gorgeous addition to any landscape., especially for nature enthusiasts who want to attract small mammals and birds to come over for a visit.
Emily Casuccio is sister and sister-in-law to Rebekah and Scott Rushing, and has over half a decade of experience in copywriting, copyediting, proofreading, and developmental storyboarding. She's worked with both published and undiscovered authors on both fiction and nonfiction, and takes pride in supporting local businesses. Her passion lies in the written word and helping authors of all capacities realize their dreams and achieve their fullest potential. To learn more about her, read samples of her work, or contact her, visit her online portfolio.
Yale University: American Sweetgum
Arbor Day Foundation: American Sweetgum
Spring Flowers of the Sweet Gum Tree
Sweet Gum Balls: What Are They and How To Get Rid of Them
The Benefits of Utilizing Sweet Gum Balls
Liquidambar L. (Altingiaceae)
The Sweet Gum - a Nyungar Confection