Liquidambar styraciflua
Family Hamamelidaceae

* Leaves star shaped, toothed, 5-7 lobes. Fragrant when crushed. 5-8".
* Corky "wings" on branchlets.
* Bud scales fringed.
* Bark grayish, grooved when mature.
* Flowers in spherical heads.
* Fruits in dry, brown, prickly, hanging balls.
* Height: 50-120'.

Natural History:
* Flowers April-May.
* Fruits September on.
* Habitat: Wet woods.
* Range: Southern New England southward.
* Native.

* The name "sweetgum" comes from the gumlike substance, liquidambar, that oozes from wounds in the tree's bark and is chewed by some people. The gum is sweet smelling but bitter tasting.

* An early reference to sweetgum comes from Don Bernal Diaz del Castillo, a witness to the ceremonies between Cortez and Montezuma in the early 1500's. He wrote of Montezuma, "After he had dined, they presented to him three little canes highly ornamented, containing liquidambar, mixed with an herb they call tobacco."

* Twenty extinct species of sweetgum are known, and the oldest is over 55 million years old.


Created by: Allaire Diamond and Jiasuey Hsu
Maintained by: Nick Rodenhouse
Created: July 31, 1998
Last Modified: November 21, 2008