I need a sweetgum tree in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area

I am a middle school special education science teacher. I was to do a metamorphosis project with them. I know you can buy those painted lady butterfly kits, but the larvae come in a plastic cup, with some sort of goo for them to eat in the bottom, which of course they poop into, contaminating their food as the wallow in their own filth, so I want to go bigger than that.

I have located a source for Luna moth eggs, as I think that would be way for fun, but I need a sweetgum tree to get leaves to feed then, and I haven’t seen one around. Does anybody know where I might find one in the greater Dallas area, from which I could cut branches with leaves without offending anybody? Any help is appreciated.


welcome to the forum. you can use the Explore page in iNaturalist to find trees in the DFW area: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=57484&subview=map&taxon_id=71434&verifiable=any.

i doubt many folks would mind you taking individual leaves from somewhat mature trees, but i would find the appropriate caretaker of a tree and ask permission before cutting branches.

i’ve put cut sweetgum twigs in water before, and i don’t recall the leaves staying fresh for very long, if that’s what you’re trying to do.


Oh of course I’m not just going to wander into somebody’s yard and start cutting branches off their trees. I have quite a bit experience raising luna moths, and the sweetgum lasts quite a long time stored in the refrigerator. I was able to find three or four sweetgum trees just driving around, but they are all fairly small. I was hoping for a big one that somebody wouldn’t mind me just taking whatever I need, but I will continue to search.

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You could also feed them walnut, hickory, pecan, persimmon or some other plants if you have easier access to those than to sweetgum