Sweetgum

Liquidambar styraciflua

native


Other Names:
Redgum, Hazel Pine, American Storax, Satin Walnut, Star-leaved Gum, Alligatorwood


Sweetgum is a native tree that survives better in warm climates. The Washington Metro Area is near the northern part of its range. Many birds forage in Sweetgum. The seeds are eaten by squirrels, chipmunks, and other small mammals, but other than a few caterpillars and beetles, few insects feed on it. Sweetgum is an important source of commercial hardwood, which is reddish-brown and used for furniture, crates, interior trim, and other purposes. If the sap is left to harden, it can be used as chewing gum. The gum can also be used for incense and perfumes. The September 11 Memorial in New York donated a grove of Sweetgums to the memorial in Pennsylvania where one of the airplanes crashed. In populated areas, the spiked seed capsules (Sweetgum balls) can cause people to slip or turn an ankle.

Identification Tools

Illinois Wildflowers Missouri Botanical Garden Go Botany Virginia Tech Dendrology

Ranges

North America Virginia

Sweetgum pollen and seedpods
Yellow spring pollen structures and last year's spiky seedpods, May 5, 2018

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