names: sweetgum, redgum.
Synonyms: Liquidambar barbata Stokes, Liquidambar
gummifera Salisbury, Liquidambar macrophylla Oersted, Liquidambar
styraciflua Linnaeus var. mexicana Oersted.
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.
with leaves • Individual
leaf • Winged
twig • Branchlet
with buds • Close-up
of buds • Flowers
of fruits •