Graves, Arthur H. Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, Connecticut.
Davis, Kenneth P. School of Forestry, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
Last reviewed:June 2020
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Liquidambar styraciflua, also called redgum, a deciduous tree of the southeastern United States. Sweetgum (Fig. 1) is found northward as far as southwestern Connecticut and also grows in Central America. The tree is commonly 80 to 120 ft (24 to 37 m) in height and 1.5 to 3 ft (0.45 to 0.9 m) in diameter, but individual trees may exceed these dimensions. Sweetgum is distinguished readily by its five-lobed, or star-shaped, leaves (Fig. 2) and by the corky wings or ridges usually developed on the twigs. The erect trunk is a dark gray, but the branches are lighter in color. In winter, the persistent, spiny seed balls are an excellent diagnostic feature. The strong, close-grained wood is light brown tinged with red, and has a satiny luster and attractive grain. Because of its tendency to warp, it was long considered to be of inferior quality; however, technical processing has largely overcome this difficulty. Sweetgum is marketed sometimes as satin or Circassian walnut, or as hazelwood.
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