Distinctive star shaped leaves, They are fragrant
when crushed, maybe 5 or7 lobed, margins are finely saw-toothed,
5 to 7" across, waxy and turning red in the fall. Some leaves on
sweet gum look very maple like.
The flowers come out after the leaves, in April or May, female
flower is a 1/2" ball, forms singly, on a 2" stalk, male flowers
on a 3" stem.
Fruit are dry globes, 1.5", long stemmed, pointy and stay on the tree throughout the
winter months. Can be a problem in a lawn as the pods are spiny.
Don't step on them barefoot! Seed eaten by birds, squirrels and
Winter Buds: Small
Dull gray brown, furrowed, ridged, scaly on older
trees. Younger trunks smooth silvery gray, warty becoming rough
with age. Twigs have corky ridges.
Sweet gum is used for fuel, boxes, veneer, woodenware,
toys, boats, railroad ties, shingles and interior of houses. It takes a high shine,
sometimes called "satin walnut".
the eastern part of the United States. It can be found as
far south as Florida to east Texas. North to Pennsylvania to
central Michigan, southern Illinois, boot heel of Missouri. Grows well in zones 5-9.
Name comes from the sap which some chew for gum.
Sweet gum is a widely used tree for landscape.
Gumball is a smaller form, Moraine a hardier
cultivar, Varigata a colorful leaf.