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Sweet Gum

Sweet Gum

Sweet Gum

(Redgum, Starleaf Gum)                            

Liquidambar Styraciflua

Native to eastern USA, this tree grows large in the southern part of its range. Rarely planted in New Brunswick. Attractive, glossy, dark-green, star-shaped leaves in summer giving way to a fall show of yellow, red and purple. Spikey “gumball” fruits that can be painful if stood on with bare feet so plant away from high traffic areas. Seeds within the fruit provide important food for local wildlife. Male and female flowers occur on the same tree. Not a particularly cold hardy tree but is said to grow in milder parts of zone 5. There is one at Kingsbrae Gardens in St. Andrews. Should be planted where it is most protected from cold winter winds. Mulch the root zone well to protect from cold.

Additional information




Native to North America


Large (60-100ft)




Oval, Round

Growth Rate



Long (over 100 years)

Hardiness Zones *


Sun Exposure

Full Sun (over 6 hrs), Partial Sun (4 to 6 hrs)

Soil Preferences *

Moist, Slightly Acidic, Well Draining

Soil Tolerances

Clay, Wet

Other Tolerances

Occasional Flooding, Road Salt

Ornamental Interest

Leaves (colour), Leaves (shape)

Wildlife Value

Bees (flowers), Birds (fruits/seeds), Small Mammals (fruits/seeds)

Human Value

Carpentry (wood)

Seed Collection

Ordered Online

Planting Considerations

Intolerant of Alkaline Soil, Intolerant of Urban Pollution, Messy Seed Litter

*Useful Links

Hardiness Zones – Canada’s Hardiness Zones

Soil Preferences – Multi-Purpose Soil Tester