We all know that sweet gum balls are a pesky part of the sweetgum ball tree (also know as Liquidambar). They get all over the ground, your pets can damage their paws by walking on them, you can’t walk barefoot in your plush green grass – they are just a nuisance!
Well…..there are some benefits to those pesky gumballs. Come to find out, the seeds inside that sweetgum balls contain shikimic acid, which is what is needed to make the flu-fighting drug Tamiflu®. As Tamiflu® became more and more popular, the main source of shikimic acid, the star anise tree (a native of China) became scarcer and the search was on for other sources. Shikimic acid was discovered to be in pine needles and infertile Sweet Gum seed. Quite a few people have posted different methods to use/extract this acid for taking advantage of the shikimic acid.
Not only are the seeds medicinal, but there are also claims that the black sap in the tree, though bitter and sour has antiseptic qualities.
The Sweetgum Ball’s wood is second only to the Oak. The sweetgum wood has many uses, particularly veneer, furniture, flooring, interior trim, woodenware, paper pulp and to make baskets.
Now, knowing all this please consider keeping that beautiful tree. Get yourself a Bag-A-Nut Sweetgum Ball machine to get those pesky gum balls off your lawn. Don’t cut it down!
SAVE THE SWEETGUM BALL TREES!!