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Liquidambar styraciflua - Sweetgum


Native to:



Southern North America and central and northern Central America.

Bottom land sites with deep soils. Up to 2600 meters above sea level. Grows up to 40 meters tall.

Liquidambar styraciflua - Sweetgum

Ecological value:

Eaten by eastern goldfinches, purple finches, sparrows, mourning doves, northern bobwhites, wild turkeys, chipmunks, and squirrels. Pollinated by bees. Fast growing pioneer and long lived. Controls erosion.

Material uses:

Used for lumber, veneer, plywood, railroad ties, fuel, and pulpwood. Resin can be used in perfumery, soap, and as an adhesive. The resin is known as ‘storax’ and production can be stimulated by beating trunk in spring. Tree produces little resin in North America - yields best in Central America.

Edible uses:

Chewing gum resin.

Medicinal use:

The gum resin can treat rheumatic pain. When the sap is boiled and cooled it creates a balm that treats skin problems. Resin is an ingredient of ‘Friar’s Balsam’.

Other details:

Used as a windbreak because of its rapid growth and tolerance. Potential to be used as a pioneer species for reforestation programs. Decaying leaves improves soil.
Prefers moist, loamy soil and full sun.


Senna Lau/Christine Facella


“Liquidambar Styraciflua - Useful Tropical Plants.” n.d.
Image sources: Luis Fernández García

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