Taxonomy of American Sweetgum Trees:
classifies American sweetgum trees (also spelled "sweet gum") as Liquidambar styraciflua
. The sweetgum tree I recommend is Liquidambar styraciflua
'Rotundiloba,' a sterile, non-fruiting culitivar
American sweetgum trees bear leaves shaped like stars. The leaves provide excellent fall foliage color: in some cases, at the peak of the fall foliage season, some leaves may be red, others purple, others yellow, others orange -- all on the same sweetgum tree! On some trees, the branches are "winged," as on winged euonymus (burning bush
), displaying corky flanges. Most people consider their seed pods (or "fruits," "balls," "gumballs," "capsules") to be messy, so I recommend the fruitless 'Rotundiloba.' Rotundiloba grows 60'-70' tall with a spread not even half that, which helps give it a narrowly pyramidal form.
USDA Plant Hardiness Zones for American Sweetgum Trees:
Sun and Soil Requirements:
Grow American sweetgum trees in full sun and in loamy
soil that is on the acidic
American Sweetgum Trees: When You Can't Find the "No-Gumballs" Variety:
Although most find the spikey pods (which look like they belong on a medieval weapon!) messy, they do have their uses. Crafters use them in decorations, and some gardeners report success using them as a "pest-control mulch" (critters don't like stepping on their spines). Wildlife (birds and rodents) eat the seeds. If you can't find the pod-less 'Rotundiloba,' but still wish to grow American sweetgum trees, plant them in an area where you won't have to bother cleaning up the pods. For those with sufficient room on their properties, one option may be to incorporate "messy" sweetgum trees into woodland gardens
Outstanding Features of American Sweetgum Trees:
American sweetgum trees stand up well to urban pollution and are fast-growing trees. But such practical issues aside, their best feature has to be their fall foliage, which is not only rich, but also diverse.
Name Origin of Sweetgum Trees, Other Fall Foliage Specimens: