Can someone list the different types of Sweetgum Trees?
Is there as many different types of Sweetgum trees as there is of Maple Trees?
Is a Sweetgum tree as aggressive as a Maple tree in it's root system?
Google Liquidambar styraciflua and all points of interest about the tree as a garden feature, including which cultivars are on the market and what their basic features are will present themselves on various web sites.
In general the species is remarkably short-lived for a tree but produces a unique foliage effect, extra pleasing in autumn (except for poor forms that do not color well). The spikey fruits can be a source of displeasure. After reaching some size the growing environment beneath it may be nearly as tough as that produced by the larger species of maples, although few trees produce as barren a situation as Norway maple.
In my area serious snow breakage can occur some years, on those same southernmost origin forms that have poor fall displays - both problems the result of them keeping green leaves into December.
There is only one sweetgum species that is native to the US, Liquidambar styraciflua.
and near impossible to garden under ... you might like it on the back 5 acres.. or the middle of the lawn.. but dont think you will have a nice shade garden under one ... if that is your goal.. find some other tree ...
and my God.. get a sterile one.. if you think maple helicopters are a nuisance.. those gumballs will cut holes in your garden shoes ...
use the latin name above.. and google ... all gum is sweet ... so you need to be a little more specific ...
Forestfarm has a good selection of the native cultivars and some of the Chinese variety
Here is a link that might be useful: Forest farm liquidambar
where did you find the info on the short life. I read that many specimens are several hundred years old
You can find information about anything, true or false, on the internet. A sterile cultivar will definitely pay in the long run. Up here, fall color isn't overly reliable, but they are quite pretty this year. Not a bad tree, though, for wet or compacted soil.
"In general the species is remarkably short-lived for a tree..."
I was surprised by this, since I hadn't read it before discussing the tree, so I did some online checking. At this site (http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/tree/liqsty/all.html) nearly half-way down the long page it states:
"GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS :
Sweetgum is a large, native, long-lived, deciduous tree that reaches heights of 50 to 150 feet (15-45 m) at maturity [6,14]."
Under Regeneration processes, it states:
"The tree begins to produce seed when 20 to 30 years old, and crops remain abundant for 150 years."
This 'eHow' article (http://www.ehow.com/info_8406758_long-sweet-gum-trees-live.html) states:
"Because sweet gum live upward of 400 years, careful placement of a newly planted sweet gum is paramount."
Perhaps you speak from first-hand experience observing them in a particular part of the U.S., or this is how they stack up in suburban lots?
P.S.: Original poster - there's only one sweet gum tree, but there is also a black gum tree, and a 'water tupelo.' They aren't even in the same genus as sweet gum, but if 'gum trees' are of interest to you, thought I'd mention them.
What does Dirr say on them? In about 8 hours I will be able to reference my copy.
Dirr says that it would be on any gardener's wishlist if it wouldn't be for the balls. Apparently rotundiloba is the only fruitless cultivar and tends to revert over time.
FWIW, 'Rotundiloba', at least in my limited experience, has poor to fair fall color at best.
'Worplesdon' has a bit of a "cutleaf" look (really just star shaped but "narrower" arms on the "star" if that makes sense), and colors pretty well here, and holds a while. I've heard it's a heavy producer of balls, but the one I'm familiar with doesn't have any more than any other Liquidambar I've seen.
Seedling sweetgum can be all over the map, but most years they color well here. Just starting to show color this year, and more "red" than last fall, so should be a nice display in a few weeks.
I've heard "Cherokee" colors well and sets few gumballs but haven't seen it in person.