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Ben Folds talks about the sweetgum tree. © Ben Folds

If Trees Could Sing: Ben Folds & the Sweetgum

Singer-songwriter Ben Folds talks about the sweetgum and the benefits that trees provide us.

Singer-songwriter, piano player and record producer Ben Folds first made a name for himself in alternative rock and pop as the leader of the Ben Folds Five between 1995 and 2000. Since then as a solo artist, he has released six albums and has collaborated on musical projects ranging from an album with actor William Shatner to his most recent album, So There, featuring a piano concerto performed with the Nashville Symphony.

See other music artists talking about trees...

Ben Folds talks about the sweetgum in this video for The Nature Conservancy's "If Trees Could Sing" video series.

Sweetgum Facts

  • Scientific name: Liquidambar styraciflua
  • Range: across most of the Eastern U.S. into Texas
  • Height: up to 100 feet tall
  • Fruit: a spiny round, long-stemmed fruit known as a "gumball"
  • Fall colors: leaves turn yellow, orange, red and purple
  • Distinguishing feature: Like pin oaks, sweetgums produce pin-like, diminutive spur branches on larger branches. The spiny gumball is the fruit of the sweetgum tree and contains its seeds.
  • Moth food: The leaves of the sweetgum are a favorite food source for Luna Moth caterpillars.

You Can Take Care of Trees Like the Sweetgum

  • Plant in late fall or winter when the tree is dormant, unless the ground is frozen. 
  • Allow plenty of room for the tree to mature and grow.
  • Water it regularly in its first three years.
  • Spread mulch around the base of the tree. 

Mighty Cool Tree Fact

Did you know... over the course of 50 years, a single tree can provide $62,000 worth of air pollution control?