At Native Forest Nursery we grow bare root seedlings and #3 container trees. Our container trees are grown in a #3 air pruned pot. This root making container eliminates nearly all potential for root wrapping. This allows for an excellent root structure and delivers an extremely healthy tree. The bare root seedlings at our nursery are grown in a sandy loam soil with high organic matter content, which provides an extremely healthy environment for our seedlings. Our bare root liners and seedlings are hand lifted, packaged, and kept in cold storage until you are ready to plant. Conservation uses for our products include reclamation, mitigation, reforestation, restoration, wildlife habitat improvement and wetland uses. Horticultural uses for our products include field liners, container liners, landscape plantings, budding stock, grafting stock and ornamental uses.

Family: Altingiaceae
Latin Name: Liquidambar styraciflua
Foliage: Dark green
Fall Foliage: Red, yellow, orange, and purple
Bloom: Yellow-green
Bloom Time: April to May
Shape: Pyramidical to rounded crown
Bark: Grayish brown and furrowed
Sun: Full sun
Zone: Zone 5 to Zone 9
Size: 60 to 80 feet
Spread: 40 to 60 feet
Care: Medium, well drained soil

Liquidambar Styraciflua, as it is botanically classified, belongs to the Altingiaceae family and is one of the most valuable forest trees native to the southeastern United States. The Sweet Gum can reach heights of 60-80 ft. and a width of 40-60 ft. It has a 5-9 hardiness zone rating and thrives given plenty of sunshine, strongly preferring the warmer temperate regions of the country. It is popularly considered an ornamental tree due to its lovely autumn foliage, as well as its outspread and tall-standing structure that peaks in a pleasantly pyramidal or rounded crown. Favoring medium, well-drained soils, the Sweet Gum is liberally distributed throughout woodlands and coastal plains, easily mingling with the other plant species of such ecosystems.

A deciduous tree, the Sweet Gum is easily discerned by its five-pointed star-shaped leaves and its fiercely spiked seed pods. Its many-angled and pithy branches and twigs are also very distinctive, layered with deeply fissured grayish-brown bark; a piece of leafless branch looks practically reptilian, explaining “Alligator Wood”, one of the tree’s alternative names. The Sweet Gum’s golden-green flowers appear in April and May, sometimes persisting into the winter alongside the tree’s fruit (popularly nicknamed “gum balls”, “space bugs”, “sticker balls”, and “burr balls”), which has been used as a medicinal tincture. In autumn, the Sweet Gum’s dark green foliage becomes a rich patchwork of blazing red, gold, purple, and bronze, cinching the tree’s popularity as a decorative garden tree.

The Sweet Gum’s timber is considered one of the most valuable commercial hardwoods in its native region. Heavy, straight, and close-grained, this wood has a delightful satiny feel and a bright reddish-brown hue. Though it isn’t strong and warps badly, it takes a beautiful polish and is a very important material for plywood manufacturers. It’s also used commonly for lumber, veneer, interior trim, flooring, woodenware, fuel, and pulpwood, among other things. The tree’s useful gum resin, produced by boiling and pressing the tree’s bark, resembles turpentine and has a pleasant aroma.

The vicious seed pods of the Sweet Gum can be a very credible reason to not run barefoot through the forest. And though you might have thought rather ill of them if they’ve ever impaled your feet, the Gum Tree that releases those seed pods has plenty of other more admirable aspects. Chemists have even discovered that the seeds of the Gum Tree’s fruit contain the scarce shikimic acid that can be used to produce the antiviral agent that prevents the replication of the flu virus.

Mature Tree Photos: