Saturday, August 8, 2015

Sweetgum Tree with Two Years of Fruits

Sweetgum Tree at the End of October, © B. Radisavljevic
Sweetgum trees are trees that give Paso Robles so much of its beautiful fall color. They grow along the edges of Larry Moore Park and in several places in the Riverbank Tract. They line many of our Paso Robles streets.

The photo at the left was taken at the end of October, when the leaf color is very bright. In spring the leaves are green and the trees flower.  The fruits develop on the trees in summer. In fall the leaves begin to deepen into their autumn colors.
Most of the trees I've seen in Paso Robles turn red. Some trees have leaves that may turn other colors, like blue, yellow, orange, purple or burgundy. They say if you want more than one tree, you should buy them in autumn to make sure they will match. For a closer look at either of these photos, just click on them to enlarge them.

Sweetgum Tree Fruits in July, © B. Radisavljevic
Fruits are long lasting. The tree in this photo, taken in July, still has black fruits left from last year, as well as the newly forming green fruits for this year. When the fruits get dry, they are spiky and can be painful if you step on them barefooted.

I was surprised to learn that the infertile seeds of the sweetgum tree contain shikimic acid, an ingredient used in making Tamiflu. You can read more about the sweetgum tree's medicinal uses here.