"Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) is one of the most important commercial hardwoods in the Southeastern United States. Its wood is bright reddish brown (with the sapwood nearly white) and may have black grain in the heartwood; it is heavy, straight, satiny, and close-grained, but not strong...
...The tree's gum resin, for which the tree is named, exudes from the bark of the tree when wounded. It has many names, including liquid amber or copalm balsam. It is a kind of native balsam, or resin, resembling turpentine. It may be clear, reddish, or yellow, with a pleasant smell like ambergris. As the resin ages, it solidifies, the form in which it was historically exported in barrels. The resin is produced by stripping, boiling, and pressing the tree's bark.
...The hardened sap, or gum resin, excreted from the wounds of the sweetgum, for example, the American sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), can be chewed on like chewing gum and has been long used for this purpose in the Southern United States. The sap was also believed to be a cure for sciatica, weakness of nerves, etc."
When I moved to Virginia many moons ago, a woman pointed to a sweetgum tree and called it a junk tree. I took her word for it, but thought it was too bad, as it had such pretty star shaped leaves.
I noticed in Sixty's post that it's called Liquidambar, and I assumed it was because of the lovely fall leaf color shown in the top picture I took a while back.
When I was a teen, I did a Home Ec project with gum balls by gluing them to a cone-shaped piece of Styrofoam. I may have spray-painted it silver, but I can't remember.