Scientific NameLiquidambar styraciflua
Other Common Names:
Sweetgum is a common tree in the east and central United States that can be ornamental or a pest.
The alternately arranged, simple, and palmate leaves a have 5-7 lobes/points. The leaves are generally dark green on the tops and slightly paler on the bottoms. Most leaves will be 4-6 inches across
Sweetgum has a distinctive ridged gray/brown bark. One of its most defining characteristics is its "gumball" seeds than spread through rolling down hills, wind, water, etc. The terminal bed is orange/brown with scales. They produce a sweet smell and a sticky sap.
Flower Seed Head
Flowers are male and female of thin stalks. The heads are generally an inch across. Flowers are globose and yellow with red edges.
The fruit is round like a gumball with spikes and hangs by a woody stem. The gumball is actually a cluster of capsules, each capsule contains 2 seeds.
Sweetgum is common in the east, south, and central United States.
woody bush or tree
Thorns or Spines
Approximate Flower Diameter
Dominant Flower Color
shorter than leaf,
longer than leaf
Stem Cross Section
round or oval