Sweetgums have been widely planted as a large shade tree in St. Louis. Leaves are large and generally star shaped. Fall color is an excellent yellow to red to purple. Fruit is the infamous gumball. Some say a large mulch ring helps to contain them. The variety ‘Rotundiloba’ is nearly fruitless and perhaps hardy to -10 degrees.
In the wild, sweetgums are bottomland trees; in cultivation they are very adaptable to different sites. The fleshy root system needs considerable space in which to grow. Wood is used for furniture, flooring, musical instruments and other uses. The name sweetgum comes from the sweet taste of the sap.