Liquidambar styraciflua

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Latin Name

Liquidambar styraciflua Liquidambar styraciflua 11-03 (2).jpg


Common Name(s)

American sweet gum, sweetgum, hazel pine, American-storax, blisted, red-gum, satin-walnut, star-leaved gum or alligator-wood

Plant Family


Plant Description (Height/Habit/General Characteristics)

L. styraciflua is a glossy green and aromatic deciduous tree. This tree can grow between 33-75 feet and up to 150 ft in the wild state. The trunk of this tree can range fro 2-3 feet in diameter. This tree can live to about 400 years.


Leaf Description

L. styraciflua usually as 5 pointed lobes on the leaves. The Sweet gum leaves are easily to identifiy by the glossy, leathery leaves that are positioned in an alternate way on the stem. The leaves are also veined. The leaves change as the season changes. The leaves are dark green in spring and summer and it turns gold and orange in the fall.

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Flower Description

Spiky round balls also known as gumballs. The flower is consider the ovary that contain the seeds within the gumball.

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Seed Description

Tiny seeds inside the gumballs. Each gumball can contain up to 50 seeds each. The seeds may fall out of the gumballs when they are shaken. This allow the seeds to be easy transferred by wind and allows pollination to be more efficient.

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Bark/Stem Description

Mainly have a dark brown color with rough ridges and irregular furrows. and may find a gooey sap running along the bark.

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Other Information

L. styracifluaare historically known for using their bark for timber, furniture and the sap from the bark are often used in manufacturing chewing gum.

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Some distinguishing characteristics are the five-pointed star shaped leaves and its hard spiked fruit balls. Another characteristic about the sweetgum tree is that it has dark green leaves in the spring and summer and it turns gold and orange in autumn. This is a popular ornamental tree. The sap has the pleasant smell. This gives its unique characteristic to the sweet gum.


Collection Location on GGC’s Campus

The location of the collected species, L. styraciflua, was located behind the C building across the street from the teachers parking lot.


The sweet gum tree lives in a moist deep woods and moist soil. It needs to live in an environment that allows its roots to fully grow. It does not grow well in limited root development.


Historic Range

The genus Liquidamabar comes from all over the world. The genus comes from some parts of central and southern China, to southeast Asia. It can also be found in Europe; Greece, and southwest Turkey.

Range Map

It is in the south/southeast of the United States and California.

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Cultural Information

Sweet gum is used for lumber and other wood materials. "When the bark of sweetgum trees is pelled or injured a brownish yellow sap collects, and hardens into a gum like solid. In the pharmaecuetical trade material is known as liquid-amber. Native Americans used it medcinally as well as for chewing gum. They also made teas to treat dysentery and diarrhea from the bark and roots of sweetgum. It is reported to be excellent for healing wounds"


This page was created by:

David Suh and Jeremy Sasso for BIOL 3310K WIKI assignment lab

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