Plantidote of the Day 2011-09-23
American sweet gum tree (leaves)
So long, summer! Hard to believe it's already the first day of fall -- what happened to summer? Heck, what happened to spring? Anyway, about the trees. Sweet gums are big, deciduous trees known for their colorful autumn foliage. They produce tons of leaves in spring and summer, which makes them perfect for a spectacular fall display.
Unfortunately, Zone 10 doesn't have the cold weather/minerals in the soil/invisible leaf-coloring forest nymphs or whatever it is that makes the leaves turn beautiful colors. So you work with what you've got, and this is it!
But wait -- it gets worse! Not only do the leaves not change color here (other than a few random mutants), but the trees also produce seed pods in the shape of spiky little balls that end up all over the yard and sidewalk and make people who walk by your house curse at you as they step on them. And speaking of sidewalks, the roots of the sweet gum tree will laugh at your sidewalk and your driveway and your plumbing, as they lift and mangle all of them beyond recognition. In other words, plant one of these trees, and in a few years you'll regret it, big time! Just take my word for it, okay?
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