Trees of Alabama and the Southeast

Lisa Samuelson, Ph.D.
School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
Auburn University

SWEETGUM
Liquidambar styraciflua
Hamamelidaceae

Leaves are simple, alternate, deciduous, star-shaped and toothed. Young twigs are brown to green and twigs often have corky projections. Buds are large, shiny, and green-red-brown with many overlapping scales. Fruit is a spiny ball containing many capsules. Bark is gray to dark brown and ridged but the ridges become flattened on large trees. Form is up to 36 m (120 ft) in height and 1.2 m (4 ft) in diameter. Sweetgum is intolerant of shade and is found on a variety of sites in the south. This species reproduces aggressively through seed production and root sprouting. The wood is used for pulp, boxes ands pallets. The seeds are eaten by birds, ducks and squirrels.

Photographs by Mike Hogan.

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