Sweet Gum Liquidambar styraciflua Linnaeus    Synonyms: American Sweetgum, Sweetgum.
Kingdom Plantae   >   Division Tracheophyta   >   Class Magnoliopsida   >   Order Hamamelidales   >   Family Altingiaceae   >   Genus Liquidambar   

Status:

Sweet Gum is widely distributed, with a range from the Connecticut coast to the Guatemalan highlands. It grows mainly in bottomlands but also seeds into abandoned fields (Brown and Brown, 1972). Sweet Gum is very common on the Maryland Coastal Plain but uncommon in the Piedmont and west. It is fast growing and can become very large. It is often planted as an ornamental.

Description:

Note distinctive leaf shape and seed pods. Branchlets commonly have corky ridges. Leaves often turn bright red in autumn. The seed pods (capsules) are filled mostly with abortive seeds that resemble sawdust (Fernald, 1950). Empty fruits often remain on the tree all winter.

Where to find:

A fine, ancient specimen of Sweet Gum can be seen in the old-age Shell-Marl Ravine Forest at Chapman Forest North (Chapman State Park), Charles County, Maryland. Sweet Gum is co-dominant in some of the stands there (R. Simmons, pers. comm.).

Relationships:

Host plant to various moth species including Large Paectes Moth, Pygmy Paectes Moth, Imperial Moth, Luna Moth, Io Moth, Promethea Moth, Regal Moth, Cecropia Moth, Fall Webworm Moth, Banded Tussock Moth, Forest Tent Caterpillar Moth, Harris's Three-spotted Moth, and American Plum Borer (Database of the World's Lepidopteran Hostplants).

The moth Phyllocnistis liquidambarisella creates distinctive leaf mines on the leaves of Sweetgum.

The fungus Sweet Gum Fruit Fungus (Xylaria liquidambaris) can be found on dropped, decaying Sweet Gum fruit.

There are 1,129 records in the project database.

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Sweet Gum in fruit, in Caroline Co., Maryland (10/13/2015). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum in Prince George's Co., Maryland (11/27/2015). Photo by Dan Small. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum with typical, persistent fruit, in Wicomico Co., Maryland (12/28/2013). Photo by Jim Brighton. (MBP list)

The bark of a mature Sweet Gum growing in Worcester Co., Maryland (4/28/2012). Photo by Jim Brighton. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum in winter-bare condition; corky growth on twig; and an end bud, in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (2/24/2011). Photo by Bill Harms. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum, flowers just emerging, in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (4/14/2019). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum fruit in Queen Anne's Co., Maryland (11/23/2013). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum balls after seeds have been released, in Kent Co., Maryland (3/26/2016). Photo by Nancy Martin. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum (trunk) on Assateague Island, Worcester Co., Maryland (2/20/2016). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

A Sweet Gum trunk at Fort Smallwood Park, Maryland (1/26/2013). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (5/1/2017). Photo by Bill Harms. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum in Caroline Co., Maryland (10/3/2020). (c) Wayne Longbottom, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum in Caroline Co., Maryland (10/3/2020). (c) Wayne Longbottom, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum in Prince George's Co., Maryland (7/31/2020). (c) gchilds, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by gchilds via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum in Howard Co., Maryland (5/18/2015). (c) hcc12, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by hcc12 via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum (note corky outgrowths of bark) in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (1/15/2016). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum in Worcester Co., Maryland (1/30/2018). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum, showing characteristic corky outgrowths on twigs, in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (2/28/2016). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

A Sweet Gum bud at Downs Park in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (2/14/2013). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

Fallen Sweet Gum leaves in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (10/31/2019). Photo by Matthew Beziat. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (7/19/2020). (c) Wayne Longbottom, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum growing in Caroline Co., Maryland (4/26/2016). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum in the Piedmont -- where it is much less common than it is on the Coastal Plain; Montgomery Co., Maryland (11/8/2015). Photo by Jane Hill. (MBP list)

A large, old Sweet Gum in Charles Co., Maryland (1/23/2007). Photo by Rod Simmons. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum growing in Queen Anne's Co., Maryland (5/7/2016). Photo by Dan Small. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (10/12/2010). Photo by Bill Harms. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum in Prince George's Co., Maryland (10/31/2015). (c) treichard, all rights reserved. Photo by Timothy Reichard. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum in Prince George's Co., Maryland (10/17/2020). (c) Katja Schulz, some rights reserved (CC BY). Photo by Katja Schulz via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum in Howard Co., Maryland (10/31/2020). (c) Timothy Reichard, all rights reserved. Photo by Timothy Reichard. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum in St. Mary's Co., Maryland (4/14/2020). (c) Kathryn Burcham, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Kathryn Burcham via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum in Queen Anne's Co., Maryland (11/21/2020). (c) johnbotany, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by John Hall. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum in Caroline Co., Maryland (3/17/2020). (c) Wayne Longbottom, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (5/25/2020). (c) Ashley M Bradford, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Ashley Bradford. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum in Wicomico Co., Maryland (9/22/2020). (c) Wayne Longbottom, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum in fruit in Caroline Co., Maryland (11/2/2020). (c) Wayne Longbottom, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum in Caroline Co., Maryland (11/2/2020). (c) Wayne Longbottom, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (4/3/2020). (c) Sydney, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Sydney via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum in Kent Co., Maryland (3/31/2019). (c) Ashley M Bradford, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Ashley Bradford. (MBP list)

Sweet Gum in Kent Co., Maryland (3/31/2019). (c) Ashley M Bradford, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Ashley Bradford. (MBP list)


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