plant-banner1

Plant Details

Liquidambar styraciflua

Sweet Gum, Red Gum, Sweetgum

Scientific Name:

Liquidambar styraciflua

Genus:

Liquidambar

Species Epithet:

styraciflua

Common Name:

Sweet Gum, Red Gum, Sweetgum

Plant Type

Tree

Life Cycle

Perennial

Plant Family

Altingiaceae (Sweet-Gum Family)

Native/Alien:

NC Native

Size:

72-100 ft.

Bloom Color(s):

Yellow, Green

Light:

Sun - 6 or more hours of sun per day, Part Shade - 2 to 6 hours of sun per day

Soil Moisture:

Dry, Moist

Bloom Time:

March, April, May

Growing Area:

Mountains, Piedmont, Sandhills, Coastal Plain

Habitat Description:

Swamp forests, floodplains, moist forests, depressional wetlands, old fields, disturbed areas (Weakley 2015). Common throughout NC.

Leaf Arrangement:

Alternate

Leaf Retention:

Deciduous

Leaf Type:

Leaves veined, not needle-like or scale-like

Leaf Form:

Simple

Life Cycle:

Perennial

Wildlife Value:

Important for Wildlife

Landscape Value:

Suitable for home landscapes

Notes:

"One of the most spectacular of our trees in the fall; a single tree often has a mixture of green, yellow, orange, dark red, bronze, and purple leaves. The sap was previously gathered as a source of chewing gum. The bark is one of the favorite foods of beavers. Although sometimes thought of as a small and weedy tree, Liquidambar reaches its greatest abundance and size in Coastal Plain swamp forests, where it can reach 2 meters in diameter. Along with such species as Pinus taeda, Quercus phellos, and others, Liquidambar is a good example of a primarily bottomland tree which has proven to be an excellent colonizer of disturbed uplands." (Weakley 2015)

Male (upright) and female (pendulous) flowers

Sweetgum is a bottomland tree that is a successful colonizer of disturbed ground. The round, spiny fruits persisting in winter, star-shaped leaves and corky wings on the twigs are good identifying marks.

image

Jack Spruill, Hampstead, April 15, 2011

Bark from a young tree, showing sapsucker damage

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, a type of woodpecker, drill holes in trees and consume the sap that runs from the wood. They also feed on the insects attracted to the sap.

image

Jack Spruill, Hampstead, 2011

Bark of mature tree

Sweetgum is a valuable timber tree, used for furniture, veneer, trim, and pulp.

image

Paynter, May 2011

Leaf

In the fall, sweetgum leaves turn brilliant shades of yellow, crimson or maroon.

image

Paynter, Wilmington, May, 2011

Links:

USDA PLANTS Database Record


Bird-Friendly Native Plants



Permalink - (right click to save this page to your bookmarks)

<<< PREVIOUS

NEXT >>>

back to top
go to plant details search
go to plant images search
go to gallery home
back to Initial l Gallery
back to orchids
back to Carnivorous Plants
back to Trilliums