Liquidambar styraciflua

Liquidambar styraciflua – American Sweetgum

Finely cut leaves, turning brilliant autumn shades of pale orange and apricot becoming purple.


This is a large upright tree with conical shape growing to 30M. The leaves may be casually mistaken for Maple, but they are more finely divided, and have a longer middle-finger. Also, although the autumn colour starts bright red, the leaves mature to a darker claret purple than is seen with Maples.


This is one of the commonest native hardwoods in North America, originating in an area from the central-southern states across to the Atlantic Ocean. It does not do well in deep shade and is often dominant along the edges of woods, by streams and roads. The solidified resin has long been used as a kind of chewing gum n the southern USA.

Soil / Aspect:

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Intolerant of shade. Prefers deep, moist, fertile soils. Seems to tolerate a wide variety of soils, though best to avoid alkaline soils, which is hardly a problem in Karin’s Garden. This is a plant that is fully hardy and perfectly happy to be in an exposed spot.


Apart from tidying up the leaves if they fall onto a lawn; the only maintenance is to sweep the hard, bristly fruiting clusters off any hard walkway, as it is only to easy to turn an ankle on them.