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Liquidambar styraciflua Linnaeus. Sweet Gum, Red Gum. Phen: (Mar-) Apr-May; Aug-Sep. Hab: Swamp forests, floodplains, moist forests, depressional wetlands, pond and lake margins, old fields, disturbed areas, nearly ubiquitous in the modern southeastern United States landscape. Dist: CT west to s. OH, s. IL and OK, south to s. FL and TX; Mexico (CHP, CMX, GRO, HGO, MEX, MIC, MOR, NLE, OAX, PUE, QRO, SLP, TAB, TAM, VER); Guatemala.

ID notes:The fall color of Liquidambar styraciflua is often a gaudy mix (at the same time) of green, light yellow, orange, red, and dark purple.

Origin/Endemic status: Native

Taxonomy Comments: Morris et al. (2008) report on the genetic diversity within L. styraciflua as it relates to post-Pleistocene plant migrations. A form with rounded leaf lobes ('Rotundiloba') is sometimes grown horticulturally.

Other Comments: The sap was previously gathered as a source of chewing gum. The bark is one of the favorite foods of beavers. Although sometimes thought of as a small and weedy tree, Liquidambar reaches its greatest abundance and size in Coastal Plain swamp forests, where it can reach 2 meters in diameter. Along with such species as Pinus taeda, Quercus phellos, and others, Liquidambar is a good example of a primarily bottomland tree which has proven to be an excellent colonizer of disturbed uplands. The twigs sometimes have irregular corky growths.

Synonymy: = Ar, C, F, Fl2, FNA3, G, GW2, Il, K1, K3, K4, Mex, Mo1, NcTx, NE, NY, Ok, Pa, RAB, S, SFla, Tn, Tx, Va, W, WH3, WV, Ickert-Bond & Wen (2013)

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image of plant© Keith Bradley | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Scott Ward | Original Image ⭷
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