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Sweet Gum

Liquidambar styraciflua

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Sweet Gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) at Squak Mountain Nursery

Sweet Gum in fall

Sweet Gum in fall

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Sweet Gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) at Squak Mountain Nursery

Sweet Gum in fall

Sweet Gum in fall

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Sweet Gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) at Squak Mountain Nursery

Sweet Gum

Sweet Gum

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height:  70 feet

Spread:  50 feet

Sunlight:  full sun 

Hardiness Zone:  4

Other Names:  American Sweet Gum

Description:

A tall, spreading shade tree with interestingly shaped leaves that turn brilliant yellow, orange, red and purple in fall; somewhat particular about growing conditions; fruit is spiny and can be somewhat messy, use where this will not be a problem

Ornamental Features

Sweet Gum has forest green foliage throughout the season. The lobed palmate leaves turn an outstanding crimson in the fall. Neither the flowers nor the fruit are ornamentally significant. However, the fruit can be messy in the landscape and may require occasional clean-up.

Landscape Attributes

Sweet Gum is a deciduous tree with a strong central leader and a shapely oval form. Its average texture blends into the landscape, but can be balanced by one or two finer or coarser trees or shrubs for an effective composition.

This is a high maintenance tree that will require regular care and upkeep, and is best pruned in late winter once the threat of extreme cold has passed. Deer don't particularly care for this plant and will usually leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration;

  • Messy

Sweet Gum is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Accent
  • Shade

Planting & Growing

Sweet Gum will grow to be about 70 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 50 feet. It has a high canopy of foliage that sits well above the ground, and should not be planted underneath power lines. As it matures, the lower branches of this tree can be strategically removed to create a high enough canopy to support unobstructed human traffic underneath. It grows at a fast rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 80 years or more.

This tree should only be grown in full sunlight. It prefers to grow in average to moist conditions, and shouldn't be allowed to dry out. It is very fussy about its soil conditions and must have rich, acidic soils to ensure success, and is subject to chlorosis (yellowing) of the leaves in alkaline soils. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. This species is native to parts of North America.

 
 
Hardiness Zone Plant Height Minimum Sunlight Soil pH Preference
Characteristics
Accent  Shade 
Applications
Fall Color 
Ornamental Features

Disclaimer - This Plant Finder tool is an online resource representing many of the varieties that we carry over the course of the season, and is intended for informational purposes only. Inventory varies seasonally, so we cannot guarantee that every plant will be in stock at all times - please contact the store directly for availability. It does not include our entire inventory of plants, so be sure to visit our store to see varieties that may not be represented on this list.