American Sweet Gum

Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Rotundiloba’/ ‘Palo Alto’/ ‘Burgundy’/ ‘Festival’

Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Rotundiloba’/ ‘Palo Alto’/ ‘Burgundy’/ ‘Festival’ (American Sweet Gum) - full view

Full view

Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Rotundiloba’/ ‘Palo Alto’/ ‘Burgundy’/ ‘Festival’ (American Sweet Gum) - full view

Full view

Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Rotundiloba’/ ‘Palo Alto’/ ‘Burgundy’/ ‘Festival’ (American Sweet Gum) - leaves

Foliage detail

  • Size:

    Height 60'; Spread 20-25'

  • Growth:

    Moderate

  • Character:

    Deciduous; oval form; moderate canopy.

  • Foliage:

    Yellow-green, serrated, lobed leaves, 4-6" long, star shaped. Magnificent fall foliage in many colors, depending on variety. Tree is bare January-March.

  • Flower:

    Insignificant flowers. 

  • Fruit:

    Round spiny hard seed capsules form in fall, drop in winter.

  • Bark:

    Rough, gray bark. 

  • Watering:

    In general, 15-20 gallons per week for the first 2 years; 15-20 gallons twice a month for the 3rd year; as needed after 3 years (varies by soil, sun, and wind conditions).

  • Tree Care:

    Moderate. Early pruning will establish and maintain a central leader and develop good branch structure; pruning needed less frequently with age. Sidewalk clean-up during leaf and seed-capsule drop.

  • Tolerance:

    Poor drainage, any soil, smog.

  • Special Considerations:

    Prefers sun; 4x4' basin recommended. Fall color is best when tree gets full sun. Does not tolerate strong winds or fog. Needs extra water in hot or windy conditions. Seed capsules can be messy. Note: FUF no longer recommends this species.

  • Notable Traits:

    Native to Eastern United States, from Southwestern Connecticut to Florida (also found in mountains of Mexico and Guatemala). All color displays are spectacular. Fall colors in San Francisco.include oranges, reds, and yellows. Seed capsules are decorative. Disease and pest resistant.