Scientific Name: Liquidambar styraciflua

Common Name: sweetgum

Other Common Names: redgum, sapgum, starleaf-gum, bilsted

Habit: Sweetgum is a common tree in the east and central United States that can be ornamental or a pest.

Leaves: 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

Identifying Characteristics: 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.

Seed Fruit: 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.

Where Found: Sweetgum is common in the east, south, and central United States.

  • Life cycle: perennial

  • Milky sap: Not Present

  • Plant type: Tree

  • Thorns: Not Present

  • Plant family: Hamamelidaceae

  • Leaf arrangement: alternate

  • Leaf shape: lance; round

  • Ochrea: Not Present

  • Leaf margin: lobed

  • Stem hairs: no hairs

  • Flower color: yellow; red

  • Growth habit: woody bush or tree

  • Stem: round or oval

  • Leaf structure: palmate; simple

  • Leaf hairs: has hairs; no hairs

  • Flower symmetry: not symmetrical

  • Flower diameter: quarter; half dollar

  • Root structure: fibrous

  • Leaf stalk: shorter than leaf; longer than leaf