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Liquidambar styraciflua Linnaeus

Common names: sweetgum, redgum.
Synonyms: Liquidambar barbata Stokes, Liquidambar gummifera Salisbury, Liquidambar macrophylla Oersted, Liquidambar styraciflua Linnaeus var. mexicana Oersted.
Family: Altingiaceae.

Brief description:
Sweet gum has interesting star shaped leaves that are sometimes described as "maple-like" because they are lobed, but unlike maple, these leaves are alternate on the stem. The leaves turn an astonishing array of colors in the fall, from pale yellow to crimson to a purple so dark that it is almost black. Sometimes the twigs have corky wings--straight, flat outgrowths from the twig surface. The spiny "sweet gum balls", the fruits of this tree, are conspicuous on its branches and, eventually, on the ground below the tree. Sweetgum yields a seimitransparent, yellowish-brown, sap, which probably gave us the name "gum" and the scientific genus name "Liquidambar". Although many people are familiar with sweetgum along roads, farm edges, and yards, on bottomland forests it can be a huge tree--five feet through and 140 feet tall.

USDA Profile

Herbarium sheet images:
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Live specimen images:

 Branchlet with leaves  Individual leaf  Winged twig  Branchlet with buds  Close-up of buds  Flowers  Fruits  Close-up of fruits 

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