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 🙂.
Table of Contents
Origin and characteristics
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?
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!).
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:
- The first thing is to fill a 10,5cm pot with substrate for acidic plants.
- Afterwards, a maximum of 2 seeds are placed on the surface and watered.
- Copper or sulfur is then sprinkled on top to prevent fungus, and covered with a thin layer of substrate.
- It is then watered again, this time with a sprayer.
- 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?
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.
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?