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Liquidambar styraciflua

Sweetgum

Family Hamamelidaceae


Use
The hardened sap can be used as chewing gum.


Description

Growth Form: Large tree.

Leaves: 7.5-20cm (3-8in) long, star-shaped, usually with 5 (sometimes 7) lobes, long petioles, edges finely toothed.

Flowers: Small in greenish round clusters, male in several on stalk, female drooping ball, April through May.

Leaf (Hannah Ramer. Brandeis University, Waltham, MA)
Leaf

Fruit (Dan Perlman.)
Fruit,
(c) Dan L. Perlman/EcoLibrary.org

Fruits: 2.5-3cm (1-1.25in), hanging brown, prickly spheres on long stem. September through November.

Buds: Many glossy scales with hairy fringe.

Bark: Gray, furrowed and ridged. Twigs often have corky wings.

Bark (Hannah Ramer. Brandeis University, Waltham, MA)
Fruits

Habitat and Range

Mesic soils in lowland woods and woodlands, from Illinois and Connecticut south to Florida and Texas.

Season

Sap can be harvested year round.

Corky wings on a twig (Dan Perlman)
Corky wings on a twig,
(c) Dan L. Perlman/EcoLibrary.org
Buds (Dan Perlman)
Buds and twig without corky wings,
(c) Dan L. Perlman/EcoLibrary.org

Fun Facts

Sweetgum is an extremely important timber tree, second in production behind oak.

Its seeds are eaten by chipmunks, a variety of songbirds, and wild turkey, among other animals.

 

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