Sunday, May 6, 2007

Sweet Gum Trees: Cleveland's Ornamental Tree Torture

When I 'Google' Sweet Gum Trees, all the write ups are flowery, glowing and supportive. What wonderful trees with their gray gnarly barks and statuesque glory. What beautiful leaves. Who wouldn't want one? I hate to tell you, but I don't want one! I live in Cleveland where the Sweet Gum Tree is the City's ornamental tree of choice. At least in my neighborhood.

Raking leaves every Fall is one thing. Until I moved to my current house and had to start raking up Sweet Gum spikey pods (my scientific name for them) I did not really understand the true meaning of an exercise in futility.

Of course you have to rake them because they will chew the heck out of your lawn mower blades otherwise. This is my fourth Spring here, and I find myself mumbling under my breath as I rake: why did the City plant them in the first place! They have to be bad for the sewers and they certainly are no fun for homeowners trying to stay on top of yard work. The squirrels can't enjoy the fruits because of the spikes on the pods, so are these pods really the definition of obscenity (no social redeeming value ?) I will leave that thought for you to decide but I know how I vote!

Then last week I looked at the newly planted tree in my neighbor's tree lawn. It's about two years old now. Lo and behold, there were about 30 or so Sweet Gum pods on it! My neighbors were on their porch as I raked my own pods. I shouted to them, 'I can't believe the City of Cleveland is still planting these trees!' They nodded and smiled supportively (although I could be wrong, maybe they thought I was a whack job).
I suppose it's not the kind of thing you really call your Councilman about. I mean, Marty Sweeney has much more important things to worry about.....doesn't he? :-) Peace Out - 3C


Leanne said...

This certainly brought back memories of where I grew up in northern NJ. We had a couple of those trees in our backyard and I hated those spikey pods, too. We'd find them everywhere... in the lawn, on the patio roof, in the gutters, in our covered/uncovered pool. Not fun. Obviously, I'm not a fan of those trees either, 3C.

Linda said...

Ouch. Those look they could hurt.

Cleveland Carole Cohen 3C said...

Linda, yes they can smart a bit! Leanne I guess the closest thing you have in Florida is if a coconut falls on your head ??? :-)

derek said...

My old man (RIP) used to work in Urban Forestry for the city so this post made me think of him.

The article you linked me to may yield the answer. I think that the city feels that their value as shade trees outweigh the inconvenience of its coarse fruit.

Cleveland Carole Cohen 3C said...

Sounds like your Dad had a very interesting job, Derek! Oak trees may be slower growing but they produce nice shade without spikey pods!