Sweet Gum

Sweet Gum

Highfield Park Tree Trail: Number 34

Latin/Botanical Name: Liquidambar styraciflua

Range: Native to south and east USA, widely planted in north-west Europe

Height: up to 30m but usually less

Uses: Planted as an ornamental in Europe and for timber and resin in USA. The timber takes a beautiful polish and is sometimes referred to as ‘satin walnut’. It was popular for use in cabinets for radios, televisions, unfortunately it warps badly in drying.

Description: Medium sized, deciduous, conical (domed as it matures) tree, leaves are palmate and a beautiful red in autumn. Flowers are rare; male flowers occur on a short spike and female in a ball, fruit are round and spikey.

Interesting fact: The tree’s gum resin, exudes from the bark of the tree when wounded. It has many names, including liquid amber; it may be clear, reddish, or yellow, with a pleasant smell. The solid resin was historically exported in barrels.