Sweet Gum

        Liquidambar styraciflua


Kingdom Plantae Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta Flowering Plants
Class Magnoliopsida Dicotyledons
Subclass Hamamelididae ----
Order Hamamelidales ----
Family Hamamelidaceae Witch Hazel Family
Genus Liquidambar L. Sweetgum
Species Liquidambar styraciflua L. Sweetgum




Leaf Simple, star shaped, alternate leaves with a serrate margin and palmate venation. Green , 4-8 inches long. Deciduous, turn Orange, purple, red, and yellow in the fall.


Image 1: Spring Sweet Gum leaf

Recieved 6/26/07


Image2: Sweet gum Leaf fall

Received 6/26/07


Flower Green and yellow; Inconspicuous and not showy. Flowers in the spring.


Image 3: Sweet gum Flower

Received 6/26/07


Fruit Round, dry, and hard. 1-3 inches in length. Attracts birds, squirrels, and other mammals. Showy. Golf ball sized and spiny. 


Image 4: Sweet gum fruit

received 6/26/07


Trunk and Branches Droop as tree grows, not showy, Breakage resistant. Usually brown or reddish in color.

Image 6: Sweet gum tree

Received 6/26/07


Bark Light brown and reddish tinged; deeply fissured with scaled ridges.

Image 7: Sweet gum bar

received 6/26/07





    Sweet gum is a deciduous Shade tree than can easily exceed 100 feet in height, often with a spread of 35 to 50 feet.  The tree is symmetrical, oblong and rounded once mature, and is a medium to fast grower.  It is found in the eastern united states, also in the mountains of Mexico and Guatemala. It can grow in full sun or filtered shade, but grows best on moist, well drained sites. 

    Sweetgum trees are used for veneer, furniture, and pulpwood for quality papers. It produces a dark purple to reddish brown hardwood, which has been tagged Italian mahogany or  Satin walnut.  It is also planted ornamentally because of it's unusual brilliant red foliage. 




Figure 5: Sweet gum range

Received 6/26/07




 Hardiness and sensitivities

        The sweet gum tree has moderate drought and aerosol salt tolerances and It is cold hardy to zone five. Usually it is not bothered by disease, and Pest do not usually affect its long term health. However, some pests that may start to inhabit a tree include bagworms, fall webworms, leaf miners, Cottony cushion scale, walnut scale, sweet gum scale, and tent caterpillars. 

   One of the few diseases that may affect sweet gum is canker disease. These diseases cause areas around the trunk to become sunken and cause the tree to "bleed."  There is no chemical control for these diseases, and severely infected trees will probably die.  

    Sometimes leaf spots may cause defoliation, but usually they are not too serious. Proper tree maintenance and care will help ensure a healthy plant. 





Christman, Steve. "Liquidambar styraciflua." 23/10/03. Floridata. 26 Jun 2007 <http://www.floridata.com/ref/l/liquidam.cfm>.


"Classification." USDA Plants. (2007). USDA. 26 Jun 2007 <http://plants.usda.gov/java/ClassificationServlet?source=profile&symbol=LIST2&display=31>.


Gilman, Edward and Watson, Dennis. "Liquidambar Styraciflua Sweetgum." Fact Sheet ST-358November 1993 26 june 2007 <http://hort.ufl.edu/trees/LIQSTYA.pdf>.


"Sweet Gum." VTree ID. (2007). Virginia Tech Department Of Forestry. 26 Jun 2007 <http://www.cnr.vt.edu/dendro/dendrology/syllabus/factsheet.cfm?ID=53>.


"American Sweet Gum." What tree is it?. 01/01/01. The Ohio Public Library Information Network . 26 Jun 2007 <http://www.oplin.org/tree/fact%20pages/sweetgum/sweetgum.html>.




This page was created by Katie Hogan and has been last edited June 26, 2007, at The commonwealth honors academyat Murray state university.

It is intended purely for educational purposes.

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