Family: Hamamelidaceae
Common Name: Sweetgum

These large, pyramidal trees are renowned for their beautiful, autumn foliage which changes from tones of yellow ochre, to orange, pink, red and purple before the maple-like leaves autumn. Liquidambar, in fact, is one of the few decidu­ous trees to produce brilliant autumn colour in mild areas. The aromatic resin from some species is used in perfumery and medicine, and the timber is also very fine. They grow upwards of 10 m (33 ft).


L. formosana, zone 7, from Taiwan, grows to 12 m (40 ft) in ideal conditions, and has large, three-lobed leaves, bronze-tipped when young.

L. orientalis, zone 8, native to south-west Asia, has coarsely toothed, five-lobed leaves which colour up in autumn. This tree is one source of the gum resin, storax, thought to be the Biblical balm of Gilead.

L. styraciflua, zone 5, from the east of the United States, has a broadly conical to spreading habit, growing to 30 m (100 ft). It has five- to seven-lobed leaves and retains its foliage longer than other species. Cultivar 'Burgundy' was selected in California for rich red autumn leaf colour which can persist into winter.


Liquidambars will do well in most soils in temperate areas, provided they have ample summer water. Propagate from seed, which may not germinate until the second year. Selected varieties are grafted or budded onto seedling understocks.


There are species suited to various cli­matic zones.

Linum      Liriodendron