About Sweetgum Tree Diseases


Sweetgum trees are native to North America and parts of Mexico that are within the 5B through 10A USDA hardiness zones. They develop best in somewhat acidic soil and can grow up to 50 or 75 feet tall with a overall spread ranging from 35 to 50 feet. Sweetgum tree diseases include several fungal diseases affecting various parts of the tree, such as roots, leaves and bark.


Sweetgum trees can encounter a number of canker diseases, which are slow spreading lesions appearing on the trunk. The most common symptom is the appearance of bleeding coming from sunken spots on the trunk of the sweetgum. If not treated or prevented, this disease can spread throughout the tree and eventually kill it. Preventing canker entails maintaining a healthy environment through correct nutrients (fertilizer) and sufficient water supply. Pruning sweetgum tree below infected areas can stop this from spreading, if caught early in newly infected trees.

Leaf Spots

Ranges of different leaf spot diseases are known to inflict the Sweetgum tree. Symptoms include the appearance of small blotches in different dimensions and colors on the leaves of the tree. Severe cases can cause leaves to prematurely fall off trees or what is referred to as defoliation. Prune out diseased parts of the tree to stop it from spreading. Remove cuttings from the area and disinfect pruning tools. Rake and get rid of any leaves that fell from diseased sweetgum tree.

Sweetgum Blight

Noticed first in the late 1950s, sweetgum blight symptoms include the top branches of the tree including the leaders dieing off. It occurs in areas where water amounts vary a lot and the soil does not drain well. Prevention of sweetgum blight includes providing sufficient amounts of water during prolonged dry periods. Sweetgum blight is also caused from construction damage to the tree. Provide damp, but well-draining soil for prevention of this disease. Loamy, sandy or clay soil with pH level from under 6.8 to 7.7 is best.

Ozone Sensitive

Sweetgum trees are sensitive to air pollution caused from ozone damage. Symptoms of this include tiny spots and marks appearing on the topside of leaves in the middle of the leaf veins. These specks range in colors consisting of tan, redish-orange or white. Specks in sizes from 1/8 to 1/4 inch will be seen on the sweetgum tree needles with the possibility of a yellow band forming next causing the needle to partially die and fall from the tree.

Root Rot

Fungal diseases can cause a few different types of root damage. However, this is not a common problem associated with the sweetgum tree. Root rot causes the feeder roots to die. If this is left untreated, it could spread to more roots and eventually cause the tree to sag and die. Over watering or wet conditions caused from poor-draining soil is the reason for this sweetgum tree disease. This must be not allowed to occur because by the time you notice it, it is usually too late.

Keywords: Sweetgum tree diseases, Sweetgum fungal disease, Sweetgum canker, leaf spot, blight

About this Author

Diane Dilov-Schultheis has been writing professionally since 2000. She is a food and travel writer who also specializes in gaming, satellites, RV repair, gardening, finances and electronics. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has been published online at the Travel Channel and Intel.