The Q&A Archives: Native Sweet Gum Tree

Question: I was wondering if you could help me. I am looking for a Sweet Gum Tree and I don't know where to find one in my town... I am doing over-the-summer-homework for biology and they want us to bring in a specimen. I don't exactly know where to look for one in the wild... could you please help?

Answer: Sweet gum trees (Liquidambar styraciflua) are native in many areas, but it could be like looking for a needle in a haystack. According to Micahel Dirr's Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, the tree grows in the wild "as a bottomland species on rich moist alluvial soils but is found in a great variety of sites". You might have better luck checking street and lawn tree plantings where they are often used -- just look for a tree with spiky "gumballs" on it. Good luck!

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