Liquidambar styraciflua L.

Hamamelidaceae (Witch-hazel family)


Sweetgum is a large, native tree in the Witch-hazel family. A cool-season perennial, it can grow to 150 feet tall. Its bark is brown to gray and very rough and may have deep furrows and rounded ridges.

The leaves are simple, deciduous and arranged alternately on the stem. Each leaf is attached to the twig by a petiole (leaf stem) and has three to seven (usually five) lobes that taper to a point. The leaves are glossy above, but underneath they have fine, short hairs along the veins.

The greenish flowers have no showy petals; they occur on 2- to 3-inch-long flowering stems. Each flower grows on its own stalk along the stem. The fruit is an aggregate of many two-celled, globe-shaped ovaries. The fruit are green before maturing and then turn brown.

Sweetgum provides food for about 25 species of birds that feed on the fruit. It offers little value as a grazing plant.


Sweetgum grows in low bottomlands and in moist to dry uplands.