October 17, 2012

Sweet Gum Trees: Can't Beat them? Embrace them!

 The Sweet Gum tree. Official name Liquidambar Styraciflua. These are the trees that line our street. To be honest, I never knew what they were until we moved into our home. We quickly became educated. Our first lesson was dealing with the spherical, spiked seed pods. There is an ever abundant supply of seed pods. They vary from the green new pods to brown dead ones. Here is the problem. They are a mess! They litter our street and yards in full force. There is never a time when the pods are not around. We are plagued. Not only are they messy, they are a hazard.  I can guarantee that everyone on our block at one time has slipped and fallen when walking on these. I have a scar on my knee as proof. When new people come over, we always tell them to watch out for the "Evil Spiky Balls." Maybe I should make signs warning others of the dangers?

Sweet Gum seed pods. New and old.

My negative attitude soften a bit, when someone told me that these pods are used in crafts.  I became intrigued. This was my second lesson. The craft world uses these pods in many ways. I have seen wreaths, pumpkins, ornaments made from these pods. Did you know that people actually sell them? Wow, maybe I have a gold mind in my front yard.

My Fall center piece. Sweet gum pods, willow branches and Eucalyptus


 My third lesson. I found out that these trees have a long history in Herbal medicine. The oldest record of these trees dates back 55 million years ago. Many cultures have utilized the trees in medicinal practices. The sap and bark is traditionally used. They are used as incense, sleep aids,  treating ailments from skin disorders, Ringworm,and when taken internally to help with coughs, and colds. The Sweet gum sap or resin has been used in the Southern states as a chewing gum.

My fourth lesson and last is that the pods have use in the garden. The pods provide a natural slug deterrent. Placing the pods around the base of your plants inhibits the slug's access. I have also layered the pods in my flower beds to stop feral cats from using them as a free litter box.

With all these wonderful uses, I no longer have such a negative attitude about the Sweet Gum. I have embraced them as one of my favorite trees. However, I may need a little reminder when I am out cleaning up their mess.

Sweet Gum leaf.

7 comments:

A Daughter of the King said...

I love how you re-purposed these pods. I wish I had some...I'd make a wreath. Thanks for sharing.
~Becky from Step Into Our Garden

Sonja said...

We don't have anything like that where I live in Maine. Because I have not been plagued with their clean up requirements, I think they are kind of pretty. I loved the look of your centerpeice. Thanks for the post!

Sonja T of http://lallybrochfarms.blogspot.com/

Katie/Maple Grove said...

I've seen these trees, but have never been around them much. Very interesting. Thank you for sharing this!

Wing Shadow Farm said...

I love sweet gum trees! I wish I had one in my yard. Love the fall colors and the dried balls.

Wing Shadow Farm said...

Heather, do you have a facebook page? And since you have sweet gum (liquidamber) trees and eucalyptus, I'm wondering if you are in So Cal like I am. =D

Heather Dreier said...

Thanks you everyone. If you want some pods, I would be more than happy to supply you! :) Go to my Facebook page The Whimsical Feather or email me at heddielynn@gmail.com

Kathy Shea Mormino said...

I would love to have you link up with us at the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week if you'd like.

http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/10/clever-chicks-blog-hop-5-happy-hen.html
I hope to see you there!
Cheers!
Kathy
The Chicken Chick