rainbowgardener wrote:But it is a native tree with gorgeous fall color, berries that feed a variety of birds and mammals, it is host to several species of butterfly larvae, and bees love its nectar (ever hear of Tupelo honey? sweet gum is tupelo).
I think it is a great tree! It is dioecious, meaning it has separate male and female trees. So if you can make sure you only have one it might help, though if yours is the seed producer, if there are pollinators elsewhere in the neighbor hood, you will still get "gum balls."
Sweet Gum is NOT Tupelo. Tupelo or Black Gum is Nyssa sylvatica and Sweet Gum is Liquidambar styraciflua. Two TOTALLY different trees. Your discription of Nyssa sylvatica is accurate however. Liquidambar or Sweet Gum is a HUGE piece of CRAP though. I would only plant this tree in my worst enemies yard.