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The sweetgum convinces with several advantages. On the one hand, its elegant growth and its colorful leaves in autumn should be mentioned. On the other hand, its prickly fruits and the sweet-smelling resin are interesting… Let's take a closer look at the best-known sweetgum tree, the American sweetgum tree…

The sweetgum tree is so popular in autumn because of its bright colors

At a glance - the most important features

  • Plant Family: Witch Hazel (Altingiaceae)
  • Origin: western to eastern North America
  • Occurrence: forests
  • Growth: upright, conical to rounded
  • Roots: deep, fleshy, extensive
  • Bark: grey-brown, thick, hard
  • Leaves: lobed, deciduous
  • Flowering time: April to May
  • Flowers: inconspicuous heads, yellow-green
  • Fruits: 2-lobed capsule fruits, woody
  • Location: sunny
  • Hardiness: -24 °C
  • Use: solitary tree for house gardens, parks, public places, etc.

More names and importance in the industry

In Latin or botany, the sweetgum tree is referred to as Liquidambar. Translated, this means something like 'liquid amber'. This plant is also known under the names starfish tree and storax tree. The Latin name refers to the sweet-smelling resin. It is used in industry to make glue, oils, perfumes and incense, among others.

Take a closer look at the overall picture

Even viewed from a distance, the sweetgum tree stands out due to its impressive growth height of up to 20 m. In perfect locations and in exceptional cases it can even grow up to 40 m high.

It has a continuous trunk and its crown is between 4 and 6 m wide. The grey-brown bark that wraps around the trunk is deeply furrowed. The twigs, on the other hand, have yellow-green to light brown bark.

The leaves are palmately lobed, resembling the leaves of a maple. They are 10 to 18 cm long and just as wide. A long handle gives them support on the branches. In fall, the foliage takes on rich hues of purple, yellow, orange, crimson, or black-red.


If you decide to plant the sweetgum tree, be sure to plant it in a sunny and warm place. Only there does it form beautiful autumn leaves, stay healthy and grow vigorously.

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