American Sweetgum - 'Liquidambar styraciflua'American Sweetgum is an excellent tree for yards, parks, and streets. Named both for the sweet, viscous sap that is produced when its bark is damaged and the gum-like consistency of its sap after drying in the sun, the tree was introduced into Europe in the 17th century and is native to the Eastern United States. An excellent shade tree, American Sweetgum can grow as large as 150' under the right conditions at maturity. With leaves that have five sharply pointed lobes, American Sweetgum leaves are similar to those of maples but are arranged alternately, not in opposite pairs. Known for their beautiful fall colors, American Sweetgum leaves are a deep, glossy green and turn brilliant orange, red, and purple colors in the autumn. In some ways, the fall color mimics that of maples, but the deep purples and smoky browns tend to resemble fall colors of ash trees. American Sweetgum makes an excellent reforestation tree and is known to live for centuries under the right conditions. With this in mind, American Sweetgum make perfect candidates for reforestation programs such as the USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and programs sponsored by the EPA.
|Common Name:||American Sweetgum|
|Popular Varieties:||Aurea, Aurora, Burgundy, Festival, Golden Treasure, Gumball, Kia, Lane Roberts, Levis, Moonbeam, Moraine, Oconee, Palo Alto, Rotundiloba, Variegata, Worplesdon|
||Deciduous Shade Tree|
||Leaves are very beautiful, deep glossy green above in summer, changing to rich yellow-purple-red-brown tones in the fall; there is a great variability in fall colors. Leaves are held very late into the fall and summer leaves are alternate, simple, 4 to 8 inches wide and about as long. Leaves are 5 to 7 lobed with oblong-triangular, acuminate, star-shaped, finely serrate lobes, and cordate at base.|
||60 to 75 feet in height with a spread of 2/3's to equal the height; It can reach 80 to 120 feet in the wild.|
||Zone 5 to 9. For an idea of your plant zone please visit the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.|
||Decidedly pyramidal when young, of very neat outline; often with an oblong to rounded crown at maturity.|
||Medium to fast, 2 to 3 foot per year in moist soil.|
||Monoecious, female, on a slender stalk terminated by a 1/3 inch diameter globose head consisting of 2-breaker ovaries subtended by minute scales; the ovaries coalescing at maturity to form a solid structure; male flowers in a terminal upright 3 to 4 inches long raceme. Flowers are not showy and appear in late April and early May.|
|Diseases & Insects:
||Bleeding necrosis, leaf spots, sweet gum webworm, caterpillars, cottony-cushion scale, sweet gum scale, walnut scale; iron chlorosis can be problem on high pH soils.|
||Excellent lawn, park, or street tree but needs large area for root development. It is used extensively on west coast.|
||Prefers deep, moist, slightly ace soil and full sun.|
||Prune in winter and water transplants thoroughly and often.|
||Fertilize an area three times the canopy spread of the tree 1 to 2 times a year with a 10-10-10 fertilizer. Only fertilize an established tree.
||Dig a hole three times the diameter of the root system, with a depth no deeper than the original soil line on trunk. Break up the soil to the finest consistency possible. Place plant in hole and fill, compacting the fill dirt. Water the plant heavily to seal soil around the roots and remove air pockets. Water well, and remember to water regularly until they have started to grow.