sweetgum
Liquidambar styraciflua

Sweetgum is an important commercial hardwood in the U.S. southeast, where it occurs naturally on bottomland sites. In addition, it has proven very competitive in a variety of other sites, soils, and moisture regimes. It can be easily recognized by its star-shaped leaves.

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Light Fall Color Water
Growth   Size

Timber Value

      Sweetgum wood is used for lumber, veneer, furniture, interior trim, boxes, crates, plywood, slack cooperage, railroad ties, pulpwood, and fuelwood.


Wildlife Value
      Mice and rabbits are known to eat immature stems. The seeds are eaten by birds, squirrels, and chipmunks.
          Attracts: mice, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, birds

Regeneration methods
      Sweetgum is intolerant of shade and has good stump sprouting ability. Clearcut and seed-tree methods work best.

Fun facts
Sweetgum's name comes from the hardened clumps of sap that are exuded from the wounds. Sweetgum is a relative of witchhazel, the medicinal plant common in moist woodland undestories. A horticultural variety exists that has rounded leaf tips and does not produce fruit.
Liquidambar: Latin "liquidus" (liquid) and "ambar" (amber), referring to resin containing storax / styraciflua: flowing with styrax (an aromatic balsam)
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2004 Virginia Tech Forestry Department, all rights reserved. Text, images, and programming by: Dr. Jeff Kirwan, Dr. John R. Seiler, John A. Peterson, Edward C. Jensen, Guy Phillips, or Andrew S. Meeks.

questions, comments, and criticisms: email John.Peterson@vt.edu