Sweet Gum has swollen trunk


New Member
Good afternoon all...

This is a pretty tall sweet gum tree in Richmond VA. This tree has some swollen areas at its base (see pics).


Another picture, different angle...


The tree is more or less fine, drops a TON of sweet gums fruits every year (doesn't bother me) but continually looses leaves... not a lot... but all the time. So from a distance, it looks fine and strong, but when you look closer at the foliage, it is 90% ok...

Any ideas what could this be? And should I be worried about this...




Very stable member
I'd suggest hiring a competent Certified Arborist with a lot of experience in Tree Risk Assessment (TRAQ Qualification at a minimum) to perform a risk assessment. Those areas could be nothing, or they could be signs of compression stress buckling in the wood of the tree. You'll need to have somebody competent at the tree to make that determination.


New Member
Alright so I took a hammer, since I don't have a mallet, and went at it... both "healthy" areas and swell sound the same, definitely not hollow.

Since the tree is so close to the house, and so big, I a, going to go with @cerviarborist and get an expert look at it.

It is a pretty tree, and would hate to have it cut... wish it luck.

Thanks to all of you.


Johnny Turvin

New Member
Strictly from the pics those areas do look like response growth to stress, but I think torsion rather than compression. If the canopy is broad and not well balanced then if it is also exposed to wind the canopy may be racking the stem. If this is the case mitigation is simple - reduction pruning to bring the canopy into a more symmetrical shape. Also, I suspect because you said it is close to the house that the tree may be limbed way up which reduces damping supplied by lower limbs. If so it would be good to allow some adventitious lower growth to become established limbs over the next few years.