In 2002 the tree began to split and it was destined to be chopped down until the Admissions Office appealed for clemency. The director of admissions argued that the gum tree was one of the favorite stops on the campus tours offered to prospective students, many of whom would leave their mark on the tree by adding their own wad of gum. The president intervened and issued a reprieve.
Sweet gum trees (Liquidambar styraciflua) are a common sight in the eastern United States and in several Central American and southern Mexican regions. This stately tree, reaching heights up to 150 feet, makes an imposing sight in the outdoors. Deciduous sweet gum trees go by many other names, including star-leaved gum, redgum, storax and alligator wood. Hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 to 9, sweet gum trees have characteristic five-lobed leaves that take on gorgeous colors in the fall. These hardy perennials are typically found in nature around the edges of swamps and in moist soils of low lying areas.
Sweet gum trees make beautiful additions to landscapes. Their size and large, full crowns provide abundant shade to gardens, sidewalks, parks and streets. Their foliage takes on a range of fall colors, including orange, to yellow, red and purple, livening up the landscape. Sweet gum trees also serve as privacy barriers and provide seclusion in gardens.
Sweet gum trees are purported to have various medicinal uses. According to an analysis reported in the Pharmacognosy Review, the resinous sap, called storax, has been used for centuries to treat a wide range of problems including skin ailments, coughs and ulcers. The sap has been proven to act as an antimicrobial agent to such a degree that is has been effective against multidrug bacterias, report the authors of the analysis.
In addition to the sap, the tree's leaves, bark and seeds (called balls) have important medicinal uses. For example, they contain several beneficial compounds including shikimic acid, a precursor of oseltamivir phosphate which is the active ingredient in Tamiflu, an important modern antiviral drug. Even sweet gum tree fruits are useful.
Timber from the sweet gum tree is a finely textured, moderately heavy white colored sapwood with a light pink tint. Its heartwood is variable and ranges from dark brown to a lighter, reddish brown. Sweet gum wood is valued for its attractive, interlocked grain. It easily takes on staining, painting and is moderately easy to shape and bore.
In their native habitat sweet gum trees provide cover for forest animals, including Eastern gray squirrels, wood ducks, white-tailed deer, mourning doves, green darners, Carolina chickadees and beavers. Seed-rich sweet gum pods make food for squirrels, chipmunks and birds.
Trees are fast growing and resistant to insect attack, which makes them useful in land reclamation and reforestation projects. They are used to reclaim former zinc and phosphorus mines. Sweet gum trees also fix nitrogen in the soil and improve its fertility.
Tamiflu, or chemically said, oseltamivir phosphate, is made from the star anise tree, Illicium verum, a native of China. Specifically it is made from the seed pods. The prime ingredient is shikimic acid. (she-KEE-mick or SHE-kah-mick.) A shortage led folks to look elsewhere for shikimic acid, and they found it: In pine needles, and infertile Sweet Gum seeds. Sweet Gum bark and leaves have some but the highest concentration is in the infertile seeds. The star anise pod is about 7% shikimic acid, the pine needles 3% and the Sweet Gum 1.7% to 3%. Interestingly, Sweet Gum tea was an herbal treatment for the flu and the Cherokee made a tea out of the bark. Shikimic acid is not Tamiflu any more than steel is a car. That said it is an ingredient, a base material, and whether it is efficacious on its own is a different inquiry.
I recently saw a huge flock of crows eating something on the sidewalk beneath a row of winter sweet gum trees. I walked closer and saw only the ripe pods and spilled seeds on the sidewalk, so I must assumed they were eating those. Earlier in the late fall, I caught a squirrel eating them from above me as I walked under the tree, depositing crumbs on my sweater. Are there no reports of the seeds being edible for humans
The sweet gum trees seem to drop balls all year around. I hated mine, until I learned about its medicinal value. I am going to try a mower with a bag attachment this year. I have seen websites dedicated to finding uses for the horrible spiny balls. Here are few ideas: Craft: Sweet Gum Mini-Wreath, Sweet Gum Balls For Flower Drainage ( put them in bottom of pots), =tags&q=sweet+gum+balls . Believe it or not, I even saw someone that wanted to buy sweet gum balls! Perhaps we could market themIf we could, We could become Rich in a very short time!
I feel for you on slipping on the gumballs. We live in the rolling hills of the piedmont in SC, and the Sweet Gum tree is very prolific here. It takes a lot of practice to walk the hilly trails, especially in the fall, when the dry leaves add to the challenge of rollerskating on gumballs, LOL. But, to the question: Is it possible to recycle sweet gum balls While researching them, I found out that wickens and others use them in their occult practices and they sell online sometimes 5 for $3.00, but sometimes 100 for $5.00. They balls are also used in crafts, and I have seen them dipped in metallic paint and used as ornaments. So, all you have to do is to box them up and put them for sale on EBay.
Ed. I read your blog there and what you have could possibly by a black walnut tree and not sweet gum. Black walnuts are also spiny balls, very similar. They are very toxic to other plants. They will kill gardens other trees nearby. We spent many years cleaning these up and burning them. My father-in-law died 3 years ago and we finally got to cut them down. Neighbor finally had a nice garden. I like english walnuts which are sweeter, black walnuts are bitter and not my cup of tea. Nobody wanted them, we asked, so we burned them, year after year. They are nasty.
I have been doing research about the sweet gum and the black walnut.The black walnut was the research paper for my sun . Thetincture of the green husk of the nut,kills virus,mold, bacteria,mildew,parasites. I make a gallon of the tincture for my church every year.I found that the tincture of the dried sweet gum ball will eliminate gas,and sooth the lower intestine.Any one can email me and get the 20 page report ,or the short version of the black walnut and or both trees fruit tincture. firstname.lastname@example.org
My question is what do I do with the red ball that falls from the sweet gum tree. Nobody I have read have any suggestion can you tell me what to do with them when they fall from the tree please. One thing for sure I am tried of raking them up my self and thinking about cutting it down, if it is no use for nothing. thank you Please write back or email me for the answer
We have many, many sweet gum trees in the woods on our 10 acres. I am wondering if the ripe pods have medicinal value left in them. Just in case, I gather them and make a tisane or tea form them. I spice it up with lots of cinnamon and honey. I do know that the young saplings can come up by the hundreds from seed, naturally.
I have heard that only female sweet gum trees produce the spiney balls. Does anyone know if that is true I have so many sweet gum trees that I would like to eliminate all those that produce the balls. They are too much work and agrivation to keep them picked up or raked up.
I have 23 acres with lots of Sweetgum trees. At first I want theses trees gone but now a truly appreciate their value. I love their colors in the fall. I live in east Texas. I have plenty of seeds if anyone wants them. I am going to research their medical value and hope to convince my husband that he should not try to cut them all down.
Grass always struggles under trees. When you put your house on the market just put some.nice hardwood mulch down, it will make the space look intentional. Some.trees and plants areballelopathic and produce their own form of herbicide that keeps.other plantsbfrom growing nearby. I am not famikiar ifbSweetgum is or not.
I have lived here in my house in Shillington, PA for a little over 8 years now. This is the first year I have noticed no gumballs!! Every Spring I would need to rake up those godforsaken things to the tune of 27-30 large lawn and leaf bags. I am thrilled there will be no raking this year. With that being said, I too, have no explanation as to why there is no fruit on the tree.
We recently had a problem with our septic system. When the D box was examined there were roots all thru the pvc pipes..we dragged several feet from the 3 pipes and the roots covered the D box thoroughly.. We were told the tree was too close to the septic and should be cut down..any other solution besides
I leave in Australia. I got that tree at my backyard. love the shade in summer and the red colour in the fall. Hate them for the ball droppings. the birds are eating them all the time and every day out backyard is covered with them. thinking of chopping half of it to better controll the birds. Use the water hose. Will wait till the winter and half of it will be gone. Hope it will not growback next spring.
The Situation: Eucalyptus is a ubiquitous landscape, shade, and windbreak tree throughout southern and central California. The trees are valued for their fast growth and tolerance of poor soils and drought. Eucalyptus is now threatened by several pest insects accidentally introduced into California from Australia, one of which is the Australian gum tree weevil.
Distribution: The Australian gum tree weevil first appeared in California in the spring of 1994, as a localized infestation in Ventura County. The beetle has since spread throughout Ventura and Los Angeles counties.Damage and Economic Impact: Both larval and adult snout beetles consume eucalyptus foliage, particularly new shoots and leaves. Adult feeding damage is characterized by notching of the leaves, giving them a scalloped appearance. Young larvae score trenches in the leaf surfaces, while older larvae consume the entire leaf. Trees are rapidly defoliated by feeding weevils and can be killed by repeated defoliation. Snout beetle populations can build to high levels in a matter of months, so that entire windbreaks and groves can be quickly stripped of foliage and eventually killed. Area-wide control of the snout beetle with insecticides is not feasible because of the problems associated with pesticide coverage of large trees spread over significant areas. Pesticide use is especially problematic in residential areas. 59ce067264