One of the common trees in our area is the sweet gum or Liquidambar styraciflua. This tree is familiar to most of us as the producer of those prickly gum balls that are so uncomfortable under foot! Sweet Gums grow quite tall- 75 ft. The leaves are star-shaped and sometimes confused with maple leaves, but careful examination shows the difference. They have nice fall color. The genus name Liquidambar refers to the fact that the tree produces a resinous sap.
Children enjoy collecting the balls and making decorations out of them. I remember spraying them with gold or silver metallic paint and hanging them on the Christmas Tree. Also, it’s fun stacking them into a tree-like pile to make a table decoration. I have even known some dogs who like to carry them around in their mouths! Do you have Sweet Gum trees in your yard?
Read more about Sweet Gums
The Mean Seed of the Sweet Gum [New York Times, Feb 7 2018]