Ever run into these spiky seed balls in the grass and wondered if there’s a use for them? These are sweet gum seed balls. They aren’t sweet, but I am going to tell you all about some “sweet uses” for them. I also want to tell you a little bit about the tree itself. I am sure that many people view them as a primarily as a hazard. If they step on one in the lawn they may feel like they are going to roll an ankle. Although, they seem like a hazard, I found they are really handy.
Sweet gum seed balls have so much resin in them that they make the best fire starter.
Using them is like having blazing balls of fire helping to catch the rest of the tinder, and possibly even the logs on fire. They burn for a while thanks to all the resin they contain. Fire starting is not the only thing that they are good for. I count them a treasure to have around. Some old time beekeepers use them as smoker fuel, when they work their bees. If you need help on how to start a fire, you can read about that here.
I’ve also read that they are excellent for dying cloth naturally.
I have a fascination with hand crafts, and while I was doing a little research, I found this article on using Sweet gum tree balls for dye.
I thought that was very cool! Did you know that Cherokee people have used the sap of the tree itself to treat wounds? Here is a fascinating article I found when I was trying to find out more about this tree which most people little about: