Trees are plants that, when designing a garden, must be the first to be planted on the ground. Being the ones that will presumably grow the most, it is important that they are put in their final location as soon as possible. And, depending on the species, they can be very useful to, for example, see how the seasons change.
For this, there is nothing like putting a sweetgum. These trees are quite large, as we will be able to see, but they have a very high ornamental value. And that’s not to mention that they resist moderate frosts.
Origin and characteristics of the Sweetgum
The genus Liquidambar is made up of a score of described species, of which only 5 are accepted and of which there are two others that are extinct. They are characterized by being deciduous trees, with an average height of 25-30 meters. The trunk develops as a solid pillar, almost straight, and whose bark is gray-brown in color.
The leaves are webbed, that is, they are hand-shaped, and are composed of 3 to 7 lobes with a serrated margin. These are green in color, but in autumn they turn reddish or yellowish before falling.
If we talk about its flowers, they are grouped in terminal inflorescences in the form of a raceme. They are unisexual, green in color, and lack sepals as well as petals. The fruits also appear in groups, called infrutescences, which measure 2 to 4 centimeters in diameter, and are brown when ripe. Each one contains 1 to 2 viable seeds, and a few others that are not. For this reason, when you go to sow it is necessary to carry out some treatment to see if they will serve you or not.
Types of Liquidambar
You may know the most common species, but if you want to know what other types of sweetgum there are, we recommend that you continue reading:
The Liquidambar acalycin It is a species of deciduous tree that reaches a height of 9 to 15 meters. It has trilobed leaves, similar to those of some maples, green in color. It produces flowers, but they are small, yellow or green, and go unnoticed.
It is a plant with great ornamental value that can withstand temperatures down to -15ºC.
The liquidambar formosanaknown as Formosan sweetgum, is a deciduous tree that reaches 30 meters in height in its natural habitat. Its crown is narrow, somewhat cylindrical. The trunk has a greyish brown bark, becoming even slightly blackish. As for its leaves, they are trilobed, and measure 8 to 12 centimeters in length.
It is a species native to China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Laos, and Korea. It grows in mountainous regions, where the minimum temperature is up to -12ºC.
The liquidambar gracilipes it is a species of deciduous tree about 20-30 meters high that presents an interesting morphological variation of its leaves. These can be slapped, like those of the L. styracifluabut also simple and lanceolate. The margin is serrated, and its color is green.
It grows wild in southeastern China. In cultivation it is very rare. It requires a temperate climate, with the four different seasons.
The sweetgum orientalisknown as common sweetgum even though it is not as popular as the L. styracifluais a deciduous species native to the eastern Mediterranean. Reaches a height of 20 meterswith a trunk whose bark is very thick and purple-gray in color. The leaves are bright green, being paler on the underside.
Due to its origin, it resists heat better than others of its kind. But this should not create confusion: frosts are also recorded in the Mediterranean. In fact, this species could not live in a tropical climate, nor in a warm-temperate region. It is important that the temperature drops below zero degrees, and that snow falls in winter so that it can survive.
The Liquidambar styraciflua it is the most cultivated sweetgum. It is known as the American sweetgum, or simply sweetgum, and is a deciduous tree that reaches a height of 20 to 35 metersalthough it can reach 41 if environmental conditions allow it. The trunk branches from the base, and its leaves measure between 7 and 25 centimeters.
Native to eastern North America and also reaching Latin America, specifically it grows in Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala. He likes mild weather, but without going to extremes. Its ideal temperature range is between -18ºC minimum and 30ºC maximum.
What uses is given to Sweetgum?
The sweetgum, regardless of the species, is a tree that has several uses. The most important for us is the ornamental. In other words, they are plants that make gardens very beautiful. The autumn color of its leaves is spectacular, and they also provide good shade during the summer. It can even be worked as a hedge, or as a bonsai.
Now, it is not the only use that is given to it. In fact, the resin is said to have medicinal properties. Specifically, it is used as an antiseptic, stimulant, expectorant and anti-inflammatory. But to avoid taking risks, you must consult a doctor before starting a treatment with sweetgum on our own.
What do you think of the different types of sweetgum that we have shown you?