Sweet Gum – Liquidambar styraciflua

Sweet Gum – Liquidambar styraciflua
Family Hamamelidaceae:
Witch Hazel, Sweet gum, Ironwood. Range: Quebec to GA, MO & MN / USDA Hardiness Zone: 3

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Sweet Gum fall foliage
Sweet Gum fall foliage is a riot of molten-lava oranges and yellows
Sweet Gum is also commonly called "redgum" and "sapgum". Leaves have a resinous, sweet odor when crushed.
Habitat: Moist soils of valleys and slopes; in mixed woodlands. Often a pioneer tree after clear-cut logging, clearing, and old farm fields.

Sweet Gum is native to the eastern United States and grows as far south as Guatemala. The four species in this genus have globose flowers and globose, pendulous fruits which are aggregates of beaked capsules. Grows at medium rate to 80 feet.


Sweet Gum is an important timber tree, second in production only to oaks among the hardwoods. It is used in furniture making, cabinetwork, veneer, plywood, pulpwood, barrels and boxes. In olden days, a gum was obtained by peeling the bark and scraping off the resinlike solid. The gum was used for chewing and as a base for medicines. "Storax", a fragrant resin used in perfumes, is made from the Oriental Sweetgum.

Sweet Gum
Morton Arboretum Sweet-Gum is 52 years [3]

Sweet Gum at Crooked Creek, Alpharetta, Georgia, USA.
Sweet Gum at Crooked Creek, Alpharetta, Georgia
Sweet Gum Fruit Husk
Sweet Gum Fruit Husk: Capsules many, fused at base into long-pedunculate, spheric, echinate, 2-beaked [2]

1. eFloras.org, Flora of North America, “Hamamelidaceae
2. eFloras.org, Flora of North America, “Liquidambar Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 999. 1753
3. Sweet gum tree, Morton Arboretum accession 545-58-2 photos © Bruce Marlin

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