Sweetgum (American Sweetgum)
Leaf Characteristics
  • broad, flat
  • simple
  • palmately lobed
  • notches between lobes V-shaped
  • teeth pointed
  • with 5 to 11 lobes
  • bases of lobes broad
  • star-shaped
Sweetgum (American Sweetgum)
Fruit Characteristics
  • other fruit (not cone, winged, acorn, or in pod or capsule)
  • tightly packed seeds
  • seeds in capsules, packed in burlike balls
Sweetgum (American Sweetgum)
Liquidambar styraciflua

This is a large tree of Ohio's forests. The biggest example in Ohio today grows in Scioto County and is 107 feet tall and 5.5 feet in diameter. The distinctively lobed leaves are star-shaped. The fruit also is distinctive. Each of the round seed balls, about 1" in diameter, contains many beaked capsules. The tree grows on bottomlands and moist to wet upland flats in Ohio's southernmost counties. In other parts of the state it has been planted extensively as an ornamental tree. Although close-grained, heavy and hard, the wood is not strong. Nevertheless, it has been used extensively for furniture, veneer, cabinets, interior finish and various kinds of woodenware. Several kinds of birds feed on the seeds that emerge from the horn-tipped seed capsules.

Tree Size height 60' - 90' diameter 2' - 5' Bark