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Most arborists and foresters agree that trying to sterilize a tree like sweetgum or sycamore to eliminate the fruit ball is hard, if not impossible, to do with consistency. You are working with expensive chemicals at great heights that can potentially drift to unprotected trees and plants. The results are often inconsistent if the chemical is not introduced when all the conditions including the fruit bloom and temperature are perfect.

There are at least two methods used by tree companies to prevent a tree from flowering. One is by using a spray-on chemical with the trade name of Florel Growth Regulator (ethephon). This chemical causes fruit to drop before it sets and must be applied at full bloom and at the right temperature. The problem here is that even professionals have a hard time determining optimum spraying conditions.

The other method I found is using a deflowering hormonal solution applied internally as a basal (tree trunk) treatment. The chemical's trade name is called Snipper (Indole-3-butyric Acid). According to the label, this acid solution is for use by commercial applicators only on "sweet gum trees in commercial and residential landscapes" where sweet gum trees are grown. This microinjectable chemical also has to be applied only at a certain critical period of time.

You just might want to join the About Forestry Forum's discussion on applying chemicals to stop tree flowering. Join the Discussion

Sweetgum Fruit Photo - by Steve Nix, Licensed to About.com


December 17, 2007 at 9:00 am
(1) Endris Taha says:

Thanks for your sending me valuable information.

Sincerely Yours,


May 28, 2008 at 1:40 am
(2) fae glass says:

I have a Mulberry Tree that my husband and neighbor want cut down because of the berry mess it makes and the dropping from the birds.
I wondered if I could sterilize it and then be able to leave it for it’s shade, oxegen,and also it drinks lots of water.
I had an Olive Tree when I lived in Arizona and they sprayed it, so it wouldn’t make fruit. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Fae

December 29, 2008 at 5:41 pm
(3) Jay McGaines says:

Many years ago I purchased and planted a “thornless, beanless” locus tree. Then 12 or 13 years later the tree got “sex” and produces nearly 15 to 20 bushels of beans each year.
can I sterilize this tree?

December 30, 2008 at 9:04 am
(4) Tony Grossman says:

The locust beans are great feed for cattle.
You may look for a small cattle producer that wants your seeds.

March 14, 2009 at 1:03 am
(5) Brian Leefarr says:

I am A Brit living in the Mediterranean. I have a palm(probably Trachycarpus Fortunei ) which was sold to me as a ‘Male’ but which after a few years growth proved to be ‘female’. I now get copious black berries shedding onto an area I wish to keep clean and unattractive to birds. Could anyone out there please explain whether I could sterilize this ‘female’ tree ?

August 15, 2009 at 11:44 pm
(6) James McBride says:

I have heard that if you hammer aluminum nails into a sweet gum tree that it will not produce gumballs, is this true?

August 16, 2009 at 9:46 am
(7) forestry says:

Not true James. Tree sterilization is costly, labor intensive, not 100% successful and not practical in most cases.

May 9, 2011 at 7:26 am
(8) creekside services, inc says:

Time that gum ball trees bloom in Central Illinois? Trying to coordinate Florel Growth Regulator spray schedule.

thanks, mark

February 4, 2012 at 10:39 pm
(9) Goanoherta says:

look at dvd to psp suprisely suprisely

September 30, 2013 at 6:19 pm
(10) Emma says:

I was hoping I’d find some answers here to control the walnut trees. I feel that it will be a lovely table before I mess with any sprays. Thanks fellas and gals!

February 3, 2014 at 5:08 pm
(11) heather mcneilly says:

hi i need help i have three very large palm trees which i love my problem is they produce orange seeds all the time and i am constantly sweeping them up also also the bats love to eat them at night and i don’t have to tell you what a mess that makes is there any way i can stop the seeds from growing I really do hope you can help me Heather

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