Yellow Sweet Gum Leaf
[ Nature Lovers ][ Spotlight ]

Spotlight: Our Mystical and Magical Sweetgum Tree Part 2

Disclaimer: This post is for entertainment purposes only. Any medicinal uses of this plant as purported by others doesn’t constitute an endorsement of use. 

Imagine…

Rivers of sweet amber flowing beneath the bark of the  Sweet Gum Tree. Bleeding through and covering the body with the slightest wound, slowly moving down the body of the tree. Small crystals form as the air cools and congeals, slowly hardening the sweet smelling resin. 

The image is romantic and alluring.  

I can easily imagine micro fairies, and other small beings swimming, harvesting, and even fermenting the styrax. 

Their small culture dependent on the health of the tree and the use of it’s resin in medicine, household uses, perhaps even in fermentation. Anyone care for some Fairy Wine? 

Those who live with Sweet Gum Trees know that all one has to do is step outside their doors and it feels as though the Magick of old has enveloped them. 

With its star shaped leaves, pyramid canopy, and hard spiky fruit, or  Witches Burrs. The entire tree encourages one’s imagination.  

Now dive into the Fall

Depending on how it’s cultivated the Sweet Gum can take on a kaleidoscope of colors:  yellow, orange, red and purple. This diverse range of colors makes this tree a popular choice for parks and recreational spots. 

Autumn  has a magical feel on its own and the Sweetgum is no stranger to magical energies.

Cerimonial Uses

As mentioned in last week’s post, the incense from Sweetgum was used in religious ceremonies. What exactly these ceremonies entailed is up for debate. 

Maybe they were cleansing the room of bad spirits, or healing the souls of the congregation, offering alms tho their gods,  or maybe they just liked the smell. 

Whatever the reason, the ceremonial use is there. And not just the incense, but the ingestion of the liquidamber essence was documented in a ceremony between Montizuma and Cortez. 

This particular emperor also like to mixed it with his tobacco so he could relax with his pipe, remember it was used as a sedative.

While the traditional ceremonial and religious uses, as well as medicinal, have been fairly well documented, it is strangely absent in the spiritual or magical arenas. 

Magical Lore and Sweet Gum Adoption

The main reason may be due to the fact that much of magical lore comes from Europe where the sweetgum died out during the last ice age. Sweetgum is a hardy fast growing tree but requires warm moist weather to thrive, such as the American south east or the cloud forests of Mexico. The cooler climate of Northern Europe is not an ideal climate for this tree. 

Although it was introduced in the 1600s to Fulham Palace Gardens by Bishop Compton (samples were sent to him by naturalist John Banister). I was unable (in my quick search) to learn if the tree still grows there today. Comment below if you know. 

But the seedpods, or Witches Burrs, do have a place in the magical communities.

It is known for its positive energies and is used as a talisman adding power to rituals and spells. It can be used in home decorations, on alters, or as mentioned previously, in tinctures. 

Not surprising it would have a strong positive energy given all the medicinal uses of the Sweet Gum.

It’s truly a gift from Nature, for those that know how to use it with prudence

And it’s a gift we now offer. Feel free to visit our Witches Burrs listing. 

 As a reminder, be sure to do your research before using Sweetgum medicinally.  I’ve included some links below, however there are many more out there to investigate. 

Is there more? 

Well since you asked.

The Sweet Gum resin has also been used as an adhesive. Sticky sap = natural glue. Kind of a given. But I’ll bet it smells better, and works better, than the liquid cement I used in school. 

For your viewing pleasure. Here’s a youtube video of someone collecting and glueing with the Sweet Gum resin. 

Or you can make soap. Or, more accurately, as a both a stabilizer and a perfume in soap. I did a quick search to see if I could find a handy soap making recipe but I got lost in my own search. Comment below if you’ve used Sweetgum resin in soap making.

Sadly, today the Sweet Gum tree is well known for its hardness in carpentry (second only to oak). Also called satin-walnut (don’t ask me why as it’s not a walnut) it has a beautiful natural finish and will stain nicelly. 

It’s also used as firewood.

I say sadly, because even our scientific community is becoming more aware of the amazing health benefits that can be derived from the Sweet Gum, so to see it turned into a coffee table is a bit sad. 

But then again, when a tree can no longer be sustained in its natural state, being made useful as furniture isn’t a bad way to go. Kind of like a second life. 

More, More….

Yes, it’s true that there is so much more about the sweet gum tree, but that would require a greater knowledge than I currently possess. 

It is a beautiful tree but considered a bit of a nuisance for those who like pristine yards due to its seed pods or Witches Burrs

But to the savvy few (this now includes you and me) the Sweet Gum tree has a stronger hold on our minds, hearts, and perhaps to a small degree, our health. 

References

Yale Nature Walk- American Sweet Gum
ArborDay.org
Sweetgum: An ancient source of beneficial compounds with modern benefits
Witch Balls
Sweet Gum Tincture
Gardens and Park at Fulham Palace
Species Description: Sweet Gum

About Author

Jenn Gaskin

After more than a decade in education I decided to turn my copious skills to writing. I have been freelance writing for Dancing Tree Gifts (formerly Sonora Kay Creations) since 2019. I wear many hats with DTG primarily copy editor, author, and web design.

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