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Any of several deciduous trees of the genus Liquidambar, such as the American sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) and the Oriental sweetgum (Liquidambar orientalis). Liquidamber trees are primarily ornamental producing bright red leaves in the fall. The reddish-brown heartwood from the liquidamber trees is sold as red gum wood. It is valued for furniture and small decorative items. The resin from liquidambar trees (storax) has been used in perfumes and embalming.

Synonyms and Related Terms

liquidamber (sp); American sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua); Oriental sweetgum (Liquidambar orientalis); copalme d'Amrique (Fr.); liquidambar (Fr., It.); storax; gum wood; sweet gum; red gum; satin walnut

American sweetgum Liquidambar styraciflua

Other Properties

Medium tree growing to 25 m with straight trunk and pyramidal crown. Bark=gray-brown with irregular furrows and rounded ridges. Leaves=star-like with palmate veins and 5 to 7 lobes (10-15 cm) Fruit=spiny gumballs containing 2 seeds, maturing in fall.

Wood has small pores. Indistinct growth rings.

Heartwood contains dark streaks with tangential and radial cuts.

Hazards and Safety

Susceptible too shrinkage and warping

Additional Images


  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • A.Lucas, J.R.Harris, A.Lucas, J.R.Harris, Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries, Edward Arnold Publishers Ltd., London, 4th edition, 1962
  • Encyclopedia Britannica, Comment: "Sweet Gum." Encyclopdia Britannica. 2004. Encyclopdia Britannica Premium Service. 21 May 2004 .
  • Website address 1, Website address 1 Comment: Virginia Tech Dendrology website at (accessed Oct. 8, 2005)

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