Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)

  • Sweetgum grows in a narrow pyramid to a height of 75 feet and may spread to 50 feet. The beautifully glossy, star-shaped leaves turn bright red, purple, yellow or orange in early winter. On some young trees, branches are covered with characteristic corky projections (similar to the Winged Elm).
  • Sweetgum makes a nice residential shade tree for large properties, developing a more oval or rounded canopy as it grows older.  But be careful when locating Sweetgum, since aggressive roots may lift driveways and sidewalks. (Plant trees 8 to 10 feet or more away.)
  • The fruit are round and spikey, and may be a litter nuisance to some in the fall.  The seeds provide food for wildlife, but the cultivar `Rotundiloba' is fruitless.
  • Sweetgum grows well in full sun to partial shade, is rarely attacked by pests, and tolerates wet soils, but yellowing is often seen in alkaline (high pH) soils.

Information Source: Liquidambar styraciflua: Sweetgum

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Photos by Alicia Lamborn