General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Tree
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Water Preferences: Wet
Wet Mesic
Mesic
Soil pH Preferences: Moderately acid (5.6 – 6.0)
Slightly acid (6.1 – 6.5)
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 5b -26.1 °C (-15 °F) to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 9b
Plant Height: 40-60 feet
Plant Spread: 25 to 40 feet
Leaves: Good fall color
Deciduous
Fruit: Showy
Other: 1 to 1 1/2 inch brown, ball-like, spiny fruit borne on a long stem.
Fruiting Time: Late summer or early fall
Fall
Late fall or early winter
Flowers: Inconspicuous
Other: Female flowers are 1/2" ball shaped while male flowers appear as 3" to 4" upright racemes.
Flower Color: Green
Other: Yellowish-green
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Flower Time: Spring
Underground structures: Taproot
Suitable Locations: Street Tree
Uses: Shade Tree
Useful for timber production
Resistances: Deer Resistant
Flood Resistant
Humidity tolerant
Propagation: Other methods: Cuttings: Stem
Other: Grafting
Pollinators: Bees
Containers: Not suitable for containers
Miscellaneous: Tolerates poor soil
Monoecious
Conservation status: Least Concern (LC)

Conservation status:
Conservation status: Least Concern
Image
Common names
  • American Sweetgum
  • Sweetgum
  • Sweet Gum
  • Red Gum
  • Liquid Amber
Botanical names
  • Accepted: Liquidambar styraciflua
  • Synonym: Liquidambar barbata
  • Synonym: Liquidambar gummifera
  • Synonym: Liquidambar macrophylla

Photo Gallery
Location: Oxfordshire, England
Date: 2017-11-14
Location: Thomasville, GA USA
Date: 2019-06-01
Location: Oxfordshire, England
Date: 2017-10-18
Location: Nationale Plantentuin Meise (Botanical Garden near Brussels)
Date: 2022-10-17
Location: Thomasville, GA USA
Date: 2019-06-01
A close-up capture of the Sweet Gum ball, the fruit of the tree t
Location: Placerville, CA
Date: 2019-11-20
Fall foliage.
Location: Tyler Arboretum
photo by Derek Ramsey.
Location: Downtown Russellville
Date: November 8 2020
Coat of many colors
Location: Downtown Russellville
Date: 2020-11-08
Location: My garden
Location: Oxfordshire, England
Date: 2016-11-11
just starting to change colour from the top down
Location: Hiking Trail In Fairfax :-)
Location: My Property Sunset Zone 23 Sub-Tropical Southern Caliifornia
Date: 2011-12-17
Location: My Property Sunset Zone 23 Sub-Tropical Southern California
Date: 2011-12-17

photo credit: Famartin
Location: Rock City, Lookout Mt. Ga.
Date: 2018-10-11
Location: Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Date: 2010-11-02
leaves getting fall color
Location: Placerville, CA
Date: 2019-11-20
Fall foliage.
Location: Los Angeles Arboretum, Arcadia, California
Date: 2011-11-27
Fall color
Location: my Zone 7b garden in North Georgia Mountains
Date: 2023-10-31

Date: Nov 23, 2009 7:10 PM
Location: Gallup Park, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Date: 2020-10-16
Pick a color.  It's in there (except for blue)!  A typical fall c
Location: Houston
Date: 2014-05-20
Location: Houston
Date: 2014-05-20
Location: Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Date: 2022-05-04
fallen Sweetgum flowers
Location: Aberdeen, NC 
Date: March 17, 2023
American Sweetgum #169; RAB p. 529, 95-1-1; LHB p. 491, 92-5-1; A

Date: c. 1865
illustration by P. J. Redouté from Michaux's 'The North American
Location: Gallup Park, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Date: 2020-10-16
This is a fairly young specimen.  If it lives long, and prospers,
Location: Joan M. Hardle Memorial Arboretum, Murray, Utah, United States
Date: 2023-05-23
A plaque at the base of the tree reads: "Dedicated to L. Clark Cu
Uploaded by skopjecollection
Location: Botanical Garden Copenhagen
Date: 2016-12-04
Location: Botanical Garden Copenhagen
Location: Valley Forge Park in southeast PA
Date: 2014-11-07
mature tree in autumn color
Uploaded by robertduval14
Location: In my garden
Date: 2011-11-02

Date: 2011-11-02

Date: 2011-11-02
Location: Northeastern Indiana - Natural Environment
Date: Sep 26, 2011 3:46 PM
Early Fall Coloration
Location: Northeastern Indiana - Natural Environment
Date: Sep 26, 2011 3:46 PM
Early Fall Coloration
Location: Houston
Date: 2014-05-20
Location: Natural Area in Northeastern Indiana
Date: 2012-03-23
Twig showing typical corky bark
Location: Botanical Garden Copenhagen
Location: Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Date: 2010-07-02
mature tree in landscape
Location: Valley Forge Park in southeast PA
Date: 2014-01-30
mature tree in winter
Location: Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Date: 2010-01-08
trunk and bark
Uploaded by GoatDriver
Location: Southern Pines, NC
Date: May 15,  2022
American Sweetgum #169; RAB p. 529, 95-1-1; LHB p. 491, 92-5-1; A

Date: Nov 23, 2009 7:10 PM
Location: Northeastern Indiana - Natural Environment
Date: Sep 26, 2011 3:46 PM
Early Fall Coloration
Location: My Property Sunset Zone 23 Sub-Tropical Southern California
Date: 2011-12-17
Location: Houston
Date: 2014-05-20
Location: Houston
Date: 2014-05-20
Location: Houston
Date: 2014-05-20
Uploaded by skopjecollection
Uploaded by skopjecollection
Location: Botanical Garden Copenhagen
Location: Botanical Garden Copenhagen
Date: 2016-12-04
Location: West Chester University in southeast PA
Date: 2008-07-29
full-grown tree in summer
Location: Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Date: 2014-01-30
the dry woody ball fruits
Location: Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Date: 2010-11-07
mature tree in autumn color
Location: Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Date: 2006-11-05
mature tree in fall color
Location: Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Date: 2011-11-11
mature tree in autumn
Location: Newtown Square, Pennsylvania
Date: 2010-11-02
mature tree in fall color
Location: Southern Pines, NC
Date: May 15,  2022
American Sweetgum #169; RAB p. 529, 95-1-1; LHB p. 491, 92-5-1; A
Location: Southern Pines, NC
Date: May 15, 2022
American Sweetgum #169; RAB p. 529, 95-1-1; LHB p. 491, 92-5-1; A
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Comments:
  • Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on Jan 12, 2018 12:26 PM concerning plant:
    The American Sweetgum has a native range from New Jersey & the Delmarva Peninsula down into central Florida to east Texas to southern Illinois & Indiana & Ohio into West Virginia in bottomlands and swamps and along watercourses. It has those glossy 5-lobed star-like leaves, 5 to 7 inches wide, that turn a good orange to red to red-purple autumn color. The brown bark is furrowed and the twigs are thickly corky winged. The tree does bear lots of the round, woody, horned brown ball-like fruits that fall all around the tree. It grows about 1 to 2 feet/year and lives about 150 to 300 years. I see lots of this species growing wild in bottomlands around most of Delaware. It has been commonly planted in the South and Mid-Atlantic as a shade and street tree, including central Illinois and infrequently in the Chicago area, where it has been just cold hardy enough to do alright. It is somewhat difficult to transplant, but nurseries dig it up in early spring as B&B. Its best range for pH is 6.0 to 6.5, but it does tolerate pH up to 7.0 at the most. It is windfirm, but it is messy from all the fruit.
  • Posted by Kathy547 ( Arkansas - Zone 8b) on Dec 20, 2015 9:55 AM concerning plant:
    Great fall color when the leaves change color. Nice shade tree. Gum balls are a pain (literally) for walking on or when you're mowing. However, they make an excellent filler for potpourri. You can also put them around plants to keep cats out.
Plant Events from our members
AndreA33 On December 18, 2016 Seeds sown
WebTucker On May 18, 2022 Obtained plant
Cobs On March 30, 2023 Miscellaneous Event
Major damage during high winds. Cut back but structure/form shape lost.
Cobs On August 3, 1996 Obtained plant
Purchased Aug 1996 Redfearn Nurseries. Planted in pool garden near large access gate and orchard block.
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