By TammyWhite
1 years ago

American Sweetgum

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American sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), also known as American storax, hazel pine, bilsted, redgum, satin-walnut, star-leaved gum, alligatorwood, or simply sweetgum, is a deciduous tree in the genus Liquidambar native to warm temperate areas of eastern North America and tropical montane regions of Mexico and Central America. Sweet gum is one of the main valuable forest trees in the southeastern United States, and is a popular ornamental tree in temperate climates. It is recognizable by the combination of its five-pointed star-shaped leaves and its hard, spiked fruits. It is currently classified in the plant family Altingiaceae, but was formerly considered a member of the Hamamelidaceae.

Sweetgum is one of the most common hardwoods in the southeastern United States, where it occurs naturally in lowlands from southwestern Connecticut south to central Florida, and west to Illinois, southern Missouri, and eastern Texas, but not colder highland areas of Appalachia or the Midwestern states. The species also occurs in Mexico from southern Nuevo León south to Chiapas, as well as in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and also in southern Brazil. In Mexico and Central America, it is a characteristic plant of cloud forests, growing at middle elevations in various mountainous areas where the climate is humid and more temperate.

The US government distribution maps for this species are incorrect concerning the southern limit of distribution in Florida. This species occurs abundantly at Highlands Hammock State Park, Sebring, Highlands County, FL, and even southwest of Lake Okeechobee. (see the Univ. South Florida Atlas of Florida Plants)

Grown as an ornamental tree in Australia, liquidambar styraciflua has a distribution on mainland Australia from Victoria all the way up to the Atherton tablelands in far North Queensland in 'tropical' climates. One of the dominant deciduous trees planted throughout subtropical Brisbane.

The distinctive compound fruit is hard, dry, and globose,1–1.5 inches (25–38 mm) in diameter, composed of numerous (40-60) capsules. Each capsule, containing one to two small seeds, has a pair of terminal spikes (for a total of 80-120 spikes). When the fruit opens and the seeds are released, each capsule is associated with a small hole (40-60 of these) in the compound fruit.

Fallen, opened fruits are often abundant beneath the trees; these have been popularly nicknamed "burr (or bir) balls", "gum balls", "space bugs", "monkey balls", "bommyknockers", "sticker balls", or "goblin bombs".

The fruit is a multicapsular spherical head and hangs on the branches during the winter. The woody capsules are mostly filled with abortive seeds resembling sawdust. The seeds are about one-quarter of an inch thick, winged, and wind-dispersed. Goldfinches, purple finches, squirrels, and chipmunks eat the seeds of the tree. The seeds stratify within 30–90 days at 33°–41 °F or soaked in water for 15–20 days. The long-stemmed fruit balls of Liquidambar resemble those of the American sycamore or buttonwood (Platanus occidentalis), but are spiny and remain intact after their seeds are dispersed; the softer fruits of Platanus disintegrate upon seed dispersal. The long-persisting fallen spiked fruits can be unpleasant to walk on; sweet gum is banned in some places for this reason.
In abundance, they can leave a lawn lumpy. The winter buds are yellow brown, one-fourth of an inch long, acute. The inner scales enlarge with the growing shoot, becoming half an inch long, green tipped with red.

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Melsdename Great post my friend
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soncee Good artikle
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MegyBella Wonderful👍
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fabio26 gorgeous, I had never seen it, beautiful article
1 years