Sweetgum trees are native to South America and have been cultivated since ancient times. They were first planted in New England during the colonial era. Today they are grown commercially throughout North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. There are many varieties of sweetgum trees including red, white, pink and purple varieties. Each variety has its own characteristics such as size, shape or color which make them suitable for different types of landscaping needs.
The most common type of sweetgum tree used for landscaping purposes is the red variety. These trees grow well in dry areas where other plants would not thrive. Red sweetgum trees need a lot of sunlight to produce fruit but they do so quickly and easily because their leaves are small and close together making it easy for them to get enough light. The leaves of these trees provide shade, protection from wind, water retention and a place for pollinators like bees to lay eggs.
White sweetgum trees are known for their large, round fruits that ripen at different times depending on the season. White sweetgum trees require less space than red and orange varieties but they don’t produce as much fruit. They’re usually planted in sunny locations where they’ll get plenty of sun and water but they tend to be slow growers due to their smaller size.
Pink sweetgum trees are commonly found growing along roadsides, sidewalks and even inside homes. They are smaller than red sweetgum trees but they have a spreading growth pattern and reach maturity at about 20 years old. These trees need full sunlight to produce fruit which ripens all year long. They grow berries in hot weather but not in the coldest months of the year.
When fully grown, these trees can be very invasive because their roots spread quickly.
The orange sweetgum tree produces a large number of fruits during the summer months. These trees are popular in urban areas where they provide shade and act as a wind barrier. They grow to be very large, up to 100 feet tall, but they do not produce fruit until they are about 20 years old.
Whichever type of sweetgum tree you decide to plant it is important to consider things like soil type, weather patterns and average rainfall in the area. It is also helpful to check with local nurseries and soils agencies to get advice on the types of trees that grow best in your area. The key to growing sweetgum trees is supporting your local economy by planting native trees that will provide a lifetime of benefits.
Sweetgum trees should be planted as saplings and not seedlings because they are more sturdy and less likely to die. The types of sweetgum trees that grow the largest fruit, like the red sweetgum tree, also produce the strongest seedlings. You can plant your sweetgum tree a few inches below the surface and a few inches away from the base of the tree’s trunk.
Sweetgum trees are very versatile and can be used for a variety of different things. Their wood can be used to make anything from furniture to musical instruments because it is so strong and yet soft enough to create a pleasant sound. The seeds inside sweetgum nuts can be eaten or pressed to extract their oil which has many culinary and medical applications. Even the gum from the bark of the tree can be used as a substitute for rubber in some products.
Sweetgum trees are a great choice for homeowners because they grow quickly, provide plenty of shade and their wood is strong but soft enough that it isn’t dangerous if you walk into it. The nuts from these trees are also very nutritious and some people even make a small amount of money selling them because they are in high demand.
Planting a sweetgum tree is a decision you won’t regret. Not only will you be able to enjoy everything this tree has to offer, but you’ll also be helping the environment by planting a native tree rather than a foreign species. For a long and happy life with lots of shade and delicious nuts, consider planting a sweetgum tree.
Sources & references used in this article:
Allometric determination of tree growth in a CO2‐enriched sweetgum stand by RJ Norby, DE Todd, J Fults, DW Johnson – New Phytologist, 2001 – Wiley Online Library
Influence of neighbors on tree form: effects of lateral shade and prevention of sway on the allometry of Liquidambar styraciflua (sweet gum) by NM Holbrook, FE Putz – American journal of Botany, 1989 – Wiley Online Library
No photosynthetic down‐regulation in sweetgum trees (Liquidambar styraciflua L.) after three years of CO2 enrichment at the Duke Forest FACE experiment by JD Herrick, RB Thomas – Plant, Cell & Environment, 2001 – Wiley Online Library
Stem respiration increases in CO2‐enriched sweetgum trees by NT Edwards, TJ Tschaplinski, RJ Norby – New Phytologist, 2002 – Wiley Online Library
Above-and below-ground biomass accumulation, production, and distribution of sweetgum and loblolly pine grown with irrigation and fertilization by DR Coyle, MD Coleman… – Canadian Journal of …, 2008 – NRC Research Press