Background and Reasons to grow Sweetgum

Background and Reasons to grow Sweetgum
Although gardeners might view the sweetgum fruits as a nuisance, these are a source of food for some kinds of wildlife. The seeds are enjoyed by chipmunks, squirrels, gold finches, and purple finches.

At one time, the wood was widely used for cabinets, and was known as red gum wood.

During World War I, the trees were an important source of gum, which was used for various purposes. The trees were tapped for the gum. A tree could yield ½ to one pound of gum annually.

The gum has been added to incense, soaps, scented body powders, and adhesives. It has also been used as a chewing gum. In the past, it has also been used for medicinal purposes. The gum comes from the bark as well as the dormant buds.

The spiny fruits are said to deter cats. I’ve collected the fruits and used them as Christmas decorations after I painted them in appropriate colors.

The ancient Aztecs added the liquid amber to tobacco. Montezuma reportedly smoked such a mixture, according to historians.

Sweetgum is also of interest because Alexander Hamilton planted thirteen of these trees in his home landscape. His home was known as The Grange. It is now a national monument even though the house has been moved to a new location in New York City. At its new location, thirteen new sweetgums were planted to replace the original ones.

Hamilton chose thirteen sweet gum trees to represent the original thirteen colonies. He wrote detailed instructions for the gardeners caring for his landscape.

Reasons to Choose Sweetgums for the Landscape

This low maintenance plant has a very attractive profile. The very adaptable species can be grown over a large geographic area from Connecticut to Florida and westward to Texas. This species is also widely grown on the West Coast.

This tree can withstand wet soils, light shade, and even occasional flooding from time to time.

Sweetgum is a lovely, popular native tree. In most rich soils, it is fast growing. Older mature trees in the wild can be quite magnificent and impressive looking.

For the most part, sweetgum is free of pest and disease problems. However, gypsy moths can damage the leaves. Although the plant can usually tolerate pollution in urban conditions, it doesn’t do well when ozone pollution is present.

The tree’s roots tend to rise above the soil surface. For that reason, protect them by not mowing near the roots and trunk. In addition, mowing isn’t recommended because the fruits can damage reel mowers.

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