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Sweet Gum | Plant Profile

Sweet Gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) is a large Pennsylvania native deciduous ornamental tree. The shape is pyramidal when young but rounds out with age. The dark green leaves are quite fragrant when bruised. The autumn colors can be highly variable, from yellows, to oranges, reds, and purples. Non-Showy flowers give way to hard clusters of gumballs.

Sweet Gum prefers fertile, medium moisture, well drained soils in full sun. They can be vulnerable to cold winters and shade.

Sweet Gum are often used as shade trees in large landscapes or parks. Avoid planting near structures, high traffic areas, or streets as the gumballs are hard and can result in a turned ankle.


Sweet Gum Characteristics

Gum trees are famous for their hard fruits that can be used to make anything from chewing gum to varnish. This species cannot be used for varnish, but still produces the amber gumballs. Gumballs are fragrant, but can create clean-up maintenance that rarely makes them worthy of high traffic areas.

Diseases and pest issues are more often cosmetic rather than life-threatening. Webworms, caterpillars, borers, and scale may visit. Chlorosis can be a serious issue in alkaline soils.

USDA Climate Zone
Zones 5 - 9
60.00 - 80.00
40.00 - 60.00'
Bloom Time
April - May
Full Sun
Deer Resistant?