I am not quite as anti-sweetgum as Mom is, so I did some research, and I am going to tell you both the good and the bad things about these trees. Then you can decide for yourself what to think.
The bark of the sweetgum tree has ridges in it, so that's why some people think it looks like an alligator. Also sweetgums like to live in swamps and so do alligators. I am glad we don't have any alligators here in Missouri because an alligator could eat a basenji in about two bites!
But getting back to sweetgum trees, the wood can be used to make furniture and floors and stuff like that, but it's not good to use on the outside of a house because it might rot, and then the house would fall down. The emperors in Mexico used to mix the sap with tobacco and smoke it. And you can also use the sap as chewing gum if you can't find any gum to buy at your local store.
Here are some good things about sweetgum trees:
2. There are lots of leaves on a sweetgum tree, so if you are looking for some nice shade on a hot day, you can find it under a sweetgum tree.
4. Birds like to eat the little black seeds that fall out of the sweetgum balls.
5. Sweetgums grow in lots of places, and they don't get bugs or diseases.
6. You can use sweetgum balls for art projects.
Now I will tell you some bad things about sweetgum trees:
2. The seed balls also roll when you step on them, and you can sprain your ankle or even fall down, both of which Mom has done more than once.
3. The seed balls keep falling off the tree all year long, so it's always dangerous to walk under it, and also you have to rake up several bags full of balls.
4. All those leaves that make the tree so pretty fall off and have to be raked up along with the icky balls. And lots of the leaves wait a long time before they fall off, so you can't rake them up until really late in the autumn.
5. The roots of sweetgum trees get really big sometimes and they push the sidewalk up and then you can trip over the sidewalk and fall down.
6. Squirrels don't like the seeds much, so sweetgums don't make squirrels want to come live in your yard the way that oak trees do.
Well, these are all the facts, good and bad, that I learned about these trees. And what I also learned was that there is a type of sweetgum tree that you can buy now that doesn't make any balls. This would be the best kind of sweetgum to have, in my opinion. So if you want to run out and buy a sweetgum tree of your very own, I recommend you buy the ball-less kind. And by the way, I will just mention that all three of my brothers are also ball-less, but that's a different story!