Sweet Gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) –
The sweet gum tree is a low-maintenance deciduous shade tree that typically grows to 60-80’ tall with a straight trunk. It has a pyramidal habit in its youth, but gradually it develops an oval-rounded canopy with age. Each star shaped leaf has 5-7 lobes that are (4-7” across) glossy, deep green with toothed margins that form on long-stalks. Leaves are fragrant when bruised, reminiscent of apple or fruity. This tree has the best fall foliage! Its brilliant mixture of yellows, oranges, purples and reds all on the same branch make this tree really stand out from the rest. Non-showy yellowish green flowers appear in round clusters in April through May. Spent female flowers will give way to those infamous gum balls (spiky balls) which are spherical, hard and bristly fruit 1.5” diameter. The gum balls mature to a gray brown and remain on the tree through the winter. The balls can create clean-up problems during December through April as the clusters fall to the ground.