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Liquidamber styraciflua

Sweetgum, Liquidamber styracifluaThe sweetgum is a common shade tree in Southern California.  It is one of the few trees here with bright fall color. But why do some sweetgum trees turn bright red when others turn bright yellow?

Sweetgum, Liquidamber styracifluaAmong the fall leaves you see the fruit, still bright green.

Sweetgum, Liquidamber styracifluaThis is the fruit after it has ripened, dropped its seeds (well, most of them) and fallen from the tree.  It is hard, woody, and has sharp points.  Of course any remaining seeds which sprout in my garden are weeds.

Sweetgum, Liquidamber styracifluaHere is the fruit of the sweetgum placed to discourage marauding mollusks (snails and slugs). A TV gardener said that they work as well as wood ash, but don't need to be replaced every time they get wet.  I have found that he was correct.

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