Common Trees of the North Carolina Piedmont

Stephen M. Seiberling, Alan S. Weakley, and Peter S. White

Liquidambar styraciflua L. Sweetgum, redgum. Family Altingiaceae. ITIS Taxonomic Serial Number 19027. USDA PLANTS Symbol LIST2. TROPICOS # 15100008.

Images • Branchlet with leaves. • Individual leaf. • Winged twig. • Branchlet with buds. • Close-up of buds. • Flowers. • Fruits. • Close-up of fruits. • Herbarium sheet 1. • Herbarium sheet 2. • Herbarium sheet 3.

Detailed Description:

Plant habit and life style. Plants Angiosperms, monoecious, (10–)15–35(–45) m tall.

Stems. Pith continuous. Young twigs (1-year-old or less) brown or gray or green or orange or reddish-brown, glabrate or pubescent. Twigs (2–4 years old) glabrous, winged or without special surface features. Leaf scars crescent-shaped or half-round or triangular, bundle scars 3 per leaf scar, stipule scars inconspicuous, stipule scars not circumferential. Bark of mature trunks furrowed or ridged.

Buds. Buds axillary or collateral or terminal, brown or orange or reddish-brown, 6–12 mm long, conic or ovoid, sharp, glabrous or pubescent, ciliate, bud scales imbricate.

Leaves. Leaves deciduous, simple, petiolate, alternate, 7.5–19(–25) cm long, 4.4–18 cm wide, orbiculate or reniform, leaf margins serrate or serrulate, deeply lobed, palmately lobed, leaf lobes (3–)5–7 per leaf, leaf apices acuminate or acute or rounded, leaf bases cordate or truncate. Leaf upper surface green, glabrous or glabrate. Leaf lower surface green, glabrate or with tufts in vein axils. Leaf venation palmate. Petioles (4.4–)6–10(–16) cm long, glabrous or glabrate. Stipules present, 3–13 mm long, caducous, blade-like, not circumferential.

Flowers. Flowering February or March or April or May. Inflorescences terminal, heads or racemes, flowers sessile or stalked. Flowers unisexual or pistillate or staminate, perigynous. Perianth. Calyx radially symmetric, synsepalous. Sepals 4 per flower. Corolla absent. Androecium. Stamens 4–8(–10) per flower, separate, filaments 1 mm long, staminodes present. Gynoecium. Ovaries half-inferior, pistils 1 per flower. Gynoecium syncarpous, 2 carpels per flower, styles 2 per pistil, styles 4–8 mm long, stigmas 4–8 mm long, placentation axile. Other floral features. Hypanthia present.

Fruits. Fruits aggregate fruits or capsules, 2.5–4 cm long, brown, fruit maturation 1 years.

Habitat. Habitat bogs and seepages or bottomland forests or disturbed and weedy areas or dry-mesic upland forests or mesic upland forests or mixed forest edges or rock outcrops or suburban plantings.

Special Diagnostic Characters. Leaves star-shaped; fruit a globose head of beaked capsules that often persists on the tree through the winter.

Cite this publication as: ‘Stephen M. Seiberling, Alan S. Weakley, and Peter S. White (2005 onwards). Common Trees of the North Carolina Piedmont: Identification, Descriptions, Illustrations, and Glossary. Version: March 7, 2006. <>’.

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