|Young gum trees near my house|
We both have lots of gum trees, but our gum trees seem to be nothing alike!
My sweet gum trees are Liquidambar styraciflua.
They get very tall, usually 50-60 feet (20 meters) in my neighborhood, but up to 150 feet (50 meters) in the wild.
|This is all one branch|
The fun part about the seed balls is that, when they dry out, you can shake them and the seeds fly all over the place.
Also, we like to paint the seed pods gold or silver and put them on our Christmas tree. Their spiky form makes them look like stars.
We do not have gum trees where I grew up - they are a coastal southern tree. When I moved here, and asked about them, I was told that they were called "gum trees" because the native people chewed the sap (like gum). That turns out to be true. It is still used today as an ingredient in chewing gum, and, it smells so good, it's also used in perfumes!
I was also told that there was a "sour gum," although they weren't sure how to tell the difference. I presumed that meant the trees looked very similar, but it turns out they don't! The sour gums are tupelo trees.