Syn.: Liquidambar barbata Stokes, Liquidambar gummifera Salisb., nom. illeg., Liquidambar macrophylla Oerst.
Family: Hamamelidaceae R. Br.; Altingiaceae Lindl.
Liquidambar styraciflua
Distribution: Species of North and Central America. Mainly tree of swamps and lowlands of US southern states but occurring marginally from Connecticut southward to Texas and from Indiana, Missouri and Oklahoma. Also found in Mexico, Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
Ecology: Swamps, bayous, floodplains, woodlands, along streams and standing water, at elevations from 0–800 m. Found usually in association with Tupelo trees (Nyssa aquatica, N. sylvatica), Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum), variety of Willows (Salix spp.), variety of Oaks (eg. Quercus virginiana) and Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda). Flowering in spring from March to May.
Liquidambar styraciflua
Description: Monoecious tree, early deciduous, 15–30(–50) m tall. Bark light brown to reddish brown sometimes with grey, dark streaks; small branches and twigs bark is very coarse and resembles scaling of a tail of an alligator (hence common name Alligator Wood). Leaves palmately lobed, 7–19(–25) × 4.4–16 cm, glabrous, margins toothed, fragrant when bruised, long petioled, 60–100 mm, with linear-lanceolate stipules. Staminate flowers in penduculate ball-like racemes, greenish, 3–6 cm in diameter, perianth absent, stamens 4–10 per flower, falling after anthesis; pistillate flowers, greenish, perianth absent, in globose heads, 2.5–4 cm in diameter, 2 stigmas per flower. Fruit in globose heads of capsules, brown at maturity (September to November); seeds winged at apex, 8–10 mm.
Use: Sweetgum is used principally for lumber, veneer, plywood, slack cooperage, railroad ties, fuel, and pulpwood. The resin from this tree is aromatic and use in production of soaps, cosmetics, inense and as flavouring of tobacco.
Native tribes used this species for its Gum, bark and root as antidiarrheal, sedative and other medicinal purposes.
Note: In various parts of the world this tree is used for ornamental purposes as its leaves change colour in the fall.
Liquidambar styraciflua
Liquidambar styraciflua
Liquidambar styraciflua
Liquidambar styraciflua
Liquidambar styraciflua
Liquidambar styraciflua
These images were taken in USA, southern Louisiana (by Karel Bergmann, May 2014), and Czechia, Chrudim (by Naděžda Gutzerová, October 17, 2012 and May 8, 2013).