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Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Liquidambar styraciflua

Common Name: 

American Sweetgum
Liquidambar styraciflua

Deep, glossy green star-shaped leaves mark the Sweetgum. Leaves turn yellow-purple-red in the fall and stay on the tree quite late. Its shape is pyramidal, becoming more rounded with age. Avoid polluted sites.

Grows to a height of 60–75' and a spread of 40–50' at maturity. This tree grows at a medium to fast rate, with height increases of anywhere from 13" to more than 24" per year.

Sunlight Requirements: Full sun is the ideal condition: at least six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

The American sweetgum grows in acidic, loamy, moist, sandy, well-drained, wet and clay soils. It has moderate drought tolerance.


  • Star-shaped leaves with 5 lobes (occasionally 7) that are lustrous medium green in color, toothed along the margins and 4–7½" in length.
  • Provides brilliant fall color, with leaves turning vibrant shades of yellow, orange, red and purple.
  • Yields long-stemmed, woody, burr-like fruit that is approximately 1½" in diameter.
  • Needs plenty of space for root development.
  • Does not tolerate pollution.
  • Has high wildlife value: seeds are eaten by eastern goldfinches, purple finches, sparrows, mourning doves, northern bobwhites and wild turkeys. Small mammals such as chipmunks, red squirrels and gray squirrels also enjoy the fruits and seeds.

This information adapted from Arbor Day Foundation. Read More here

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