liquidambar stycariflua

The liquidambar is a magnificent tree

El Liquidambar styraciflua It is one of the most beautiful trees in the world, and its autumnal color is spectacular. Their leaves are dressed in their best clothes and make it impossible to ignore them. In addition, if that were not enough, it is quite easy to take care of, so much so that if you live in a temperate climate with frosts it is one of the ones that I recommend the most.

But to make it very easy for you to identify and maintain it, I'm going to write you his complete file. Thus, having a sweetgum will be a magnificent experience for you 🙂.

Origin and characteristics

The liquidambar has webbed leaves

Our protagonist is a deciduous tree native to the temperate areas of eastern North Americafrom southern New York to western and southern Missouri and eastern Texas and southern and central Florida. It is found especially in California, both in gardens and wild. He also lives in Florida, Mexico, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. Its scientific name is Liquidambar styraciflua, although popularly it is known as American sweetgum or simply sweetgum.

It has a pyramidal shape, with a maximum height of 41m (although normally it does not exceed 35m), with a trunk of up to 2m in diameter. The leaves are palmate and lobed, 7-25cm, and with a 6-10cm petiole. They are very reminiscent of those of the maples, with the difference that those of our tree have five pointed lobes that are arranged alternately and not in opposite pairs. These turn orange, red, or purple in fall.

It's monoecious, which means that there are male and female specimens. The former produce conical flower clusters, 3 to 6 cm long; the inflorescences of the latter are also greenish, although they do not have sepals or petals, but they do have 2 styles with stigmas bent outwards. The fruit is compound, heavy, dry and globose, measuring 2,5 to 4cm in diameter.. Inside we will find a maximum of two winged seeds.

What are their cares?

The Liquidambar styraciflua is a deciduous tree

If you dare to have a copy, we recommend that you provide it with the following care:


Due to its characteristics and needs, it is important that it be placed at Liquidambar styraciflua outside, in full sun. Of course, if you are in the Mediterranean it is better to put it in semi-shade since otherwise its leaves would burn in summer.


  • the garden: fertile, with good drainage, and slightly acidic (pH 4 to 6).
  • Flower pot: It is not a plant that can be kept in a pot for a long time, but if you want to enjoy it for a few years in a container, use a growing medium for acidic plants (you can get it here!), or akadama (for sale here!) if the weather is warm.


It has to be frequent, especially in hot season. As usual, It should be watered 4-5 times a week in summer, and every 3-4 days the rest of the year. Use rainwater, lime-free or acidified (it is achieved by adding a tablespoon of vinegar to 5l of water, or the liquid of half a lemon in 1l / water).


From early spring to late summer / early fall it is advisable to pay it once a month with ecological fertilizers. If the soil has a high pH (7 or more), water it twice a month with chelated iron (you can get it here!).


The fruit of the liquidambar is rounded and very curious


It multiplies by seeds in autumn, since they need to be cold before germinating in spring. To do this, you have to follow this step by step:

  1. The first thing is to fill a 10,5cm pot with substrate for acidic plants.
  2. Afterwards, a maximum of 2 seeds are placed on the surface and watered.
  3. Copper or sulfur is then sprinkled on top to prevent fungus, and covered with a thin layer of substrate.
  4. It is then watered again, this time with a sprayer.
  5. Finally, the pot is placed outside, in semi-shade.

Thus, they will germinate as the weather improves. But beware, important: if the climate is warm, with very mild frosts, the ideal is stratify them in the fridge for 3 months and then sow them in the month of March -the northern hemisphere-.


Another way to get a copy of Liquidambar styraciflua It is multiplying it by cuttings towards the end of winter. For that what you should do is take a branch of semi-hard wood that measures about 40cm, impregnate its base with homemade rooting agents and plant it in a pot with substrate for acidic plants.

If all goes well, it will emit its own roots after 1-2 months.

Plagues and diseases

It's very tough. In fact, the only thing that can happen is that you suffer an attack from spider mites, which cause burns on the tips of the leaves. But it's no so bad. They can be controlled with sticky yellow traps (which you can get No products found.).


It is a tree very resistant to cold, which supports up to -17ºC. However, it cannot live in climates without frost.

What uses does it have?

The leaves of the liquidambar turn red in autumn


It is a very beautiful plant, which it can be had both as an isolated specimen and in groups. In addition, and as we have seen, it is very easy to take care of if the weather is good 🙂.


Native Americans they used the gum, bark and root as an antidiarrheal, febrifuge and sedative. 

Other uses

The wood, being compact and fine-grained, used for picture frames and other similar uses, but does not tolerate the outside.

As a curiosity, say that specimens of this species were chosen to adorn the World Trade Center Memorial in New York, as you can read here!.

And with this we are done. What did you think of this tree?

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18 comments, leave yours

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  1.   Sandra H. said

    How is the theme of your roots? I would like to put it near the house

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Sandra.
      Ideally, plant it at a minimum distance of 5 meters, not so much for its roots as for its crown 🙂
      A greeting.

  2.   Natalia said

    Hello, I wanted to ask you to put it on the ground, its leaves were drying ... they had black tips. Now it has no more and its branches are dry. Will he be able to recover or do I give him up for lost?
    From this moment I thank you for your answer.

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Natalia.

      It will depend largely on the soil in your garden. This tree grows well only in soils with a slightly acidic pH, rich in organic matter and well drained. If the land is clayey, or it is very sandy (beach sand type), and considering that it is already very weak from what you count, it is most likely that it will not succeed.

      Anyway, scratch the trunk a bit or cut a branch off to see if it is still green. If so, there is still hope. If so, compost it with mulch or compost every 15-20 days. And wait.

      Sometimes trees that are bad can take months to show any improvement, so there is no other choice but to be patient 🙂.


  3.   Raúl Edmundo Bustamante said

    Excellent tree, I always admired it. Your explanation has helped me a lot. I will recommend it to my group. Thanks.

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Raul.

      Perfect, thank you very much for recommending our article. We hope it is useful 🙂


  4.   Angels C said

    In one of the liquidambars some spots appeared on the leaves that were drying them. After consulting the gardener, it continues to get worse and worse, the leaves are drying out at full speed and his "solutions" are not successful. It is clear that it is a plague located in one of them, luckily the others, at the moment, are healthy. What can it be and how can I fix it? if it still has a solution.

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi Angels.

      In order to help you, I would need to see a photo, since there are many possible causes: from fungi, to as you say some plague. Or even if those spots are yellow, the tree may be lacking nutrients.

      Depending on the cause, the treatment will be one or the other. Therefore, if you want, send us a photo of the leaves of the plant to our Facebook, or if you want to our email


      1.    Angels C said

        Hello Monica,
        As you told me, I sent you some photos of the liquidambar through the mail. I have not had an answer. Did you get the mail? Thanks

        1.    Monica Sanchez said

          Hi Angels.

          I just answered you. Sorry for the delay!


  5.   Enrique said

    Hello, greetings from Mexico City. I went to a greenhouse and they gave me a 3 meter tall liquidambar and planted it in my backyard 4 meters away from the house, but it has few branches. I would like to know if the roots break the floor and if more branches are going to come out because it has few and the trunk is very thin in addition to how long it will take to exceed 10 meters in height, now it measures 3 meters and I do not know how many years have.

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello, Enrique.

      The liquidambar is a tree that grows… well, neither too fast nor too slow. If conditions are favorable, it can grow at a rate of about 20cm per year.

      Its roots are not particularly invasive, but it should be planted at a distance of at least 5 meters from pipes, paved soils, etc. As for whether your trunk will get fat, of course, but it needs time, and space to be able to develop.


  6.   Alvaro said

    Hello, is there a nursery that you recommend where I can get these trees?

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Alvaro.

      Where are you from? I usually buy plants almost always online, on ebay, Kuka Gardening, Plantas Coruña. The latter sounds to me that he has for sale, or had recently, liquidambar.


  7.   Gloria said

    Hello ... they are beautiful ... I have 6 in my home and when my house burned down two of them burned, but how wonderful. They sprouted again. I love them very much. Its colors are wonderful.

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello, Gloria.

      They are very strong trees, no doubt. We are glad that they are recovering.


  8.   Gem Carrasco said

    Hello, I have in front of my house a liquidambar that is more than 20 years old, it is huge and beautiful, my neighbors have always been bothered because they have to sweep the leaves, now they tell me that I must remove it because the Metrogas is installed and the roots can cause a explosion, the situation has me very distressed.

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Gema.

      Do not worry. It is impossible for tree roots to cause an explosion. Impossible, seriously.

      For me, it is clear that they want to get rid of the tree anyway, from what you count.

      But that, do not worry because you would only have the obligation to remove it if they send you a court order. And yet it is difficult for them to obtain it, because there are no compelling reasons to start it.