Sweet Gum Tree?
Behind our 90 year old farm house in Enumclaw we have a large old tree. We had always assumed it was some sort of maple, but we recently realized that the tree does not produce the double seed pod required of maples. The tree may be a sweet gum; it fits the general description, but does not provide fall color. Can you help us to identify the tree?
Hello and thank you for contacting us!
You are right about this being a sweet gum tree, Liquidambar styraciflua.
The leaves are lobed just like a maple, but it's the seed pods that are a key characteristic for identification. In college, my plant identification instructor used this leaf as an example of how similar leaves were not always from similar trees.
Most sweet gums do have nice fall color, but it could be a variation with this individual tree or something about the site that prevents it from normal autumn color. Sometimes when you crush a sweet gum leaf, it gives off a fragrance similar to mango. I don't know if that's the case with your tree or not, but you might try it.
I hope this answers your question. Thanks for contacting us!