Liquidambar styraciflua- American Sweetgum


General: A large and stately pyramidal tree growing rounded with age. Typically grows 60-75’, but can reach 85-100’ in the wild.

Leaves: Alternate and simple, star shaped, 4-7” wide with 5-7 triangular serrate lobes. Glossy dark green in the summer and yellow-purple-red tones in the fall. Leaves persist very late into the season and leaf color in the fall is varied.

Bark: Grayish brown, deeply furrowed. Stems have corky wings (much like euonymous) which is a distinguishing feature during winter months.

Flowers:  Males have an upright 3-4” long panicle and females a scaly, globose head at the end of a slender stalk. Neither showy. April- May.

Fruit: Gumball shaped clusters containing brownish winged capsules 1-2” in diameter that fall for a long period of time, November through April. Abundant and messy in some cultivars.

Attributes:  Great lawn, park or street tree as it needs lots of room for root establishment. Leaf shape and color add interest. Is especially prolific in the south. Wood is often used for plywood and furniture making. The name Sweetgum comes from the consistency of the sap which has a sweet taste and gummy consistency.



Hardiness:  Zones 5-9

Growing Conditions: Loves moist acidic soil and full sun.

Maintenance:  Susceptible to leaf spots, web worm, scale and chlorosis in high PH soils.

Transplanting: Due to a fleshy, not fibrous, root system, sweetgum takes a long time to establish once transplanted. Requires cool weather and moist acidic soil.

Our Experience

Experience at Great Hill

On great hill we have an upright columnar and conical cultivar of Sweetgum named ‘Slender Silhouette,’ who’s shape resembles a totem pole. This cultivar grows to height but does not take the space in width required of the typical habit. Our variety bears striking fall color and little of the messy seed pods that plague other cultivars.