Selecting Landscape Plants: Shade Trees

Sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua)

Large trees

Sweet gum


  • Maximum height
    80 feet
  • Relative growth rate
    Good
  • Freedom from insect pests
    Good
  • Freedom from disease problems
    Poor
  • Resistance to storm damage
    Good
  • Will grow on poorly drained soil
    Excellent
  • Will grow in hot, dry areas
    Poor
  • Easy to transplant
    Poor
  • Withstands city conditions
    Good

The glossy green star-shaped leaves of the sweet gum are its most ornamental characteristic. Where it is given room to develop, few trees will approach it in symmetrical beauty. The ball-shaped fruit hang on the tree long after the leaves have fallen, giving added interest to the tree, but they are a nuisance in the lawn once they have fallen. A disease called bleeding canker has attacked sweet gums in some parts of the state. There is no known cure for the disease, and it may be wise to choose some other species for planting in areas where the sweet gum has already been extensively planted.