Liquidambar styraciflua L.
  • FAMILY: ALTINGIACEAE (alternatively included in Hamamelidaceae)
  • LEAVES: deciduous, alternate, simple, star-shaped, palmately lobed with 5 (-7) acute, serrate lobes; yellow or red fall color
  • FLOWER: imperfect, plants monoecious; male flowers greenish-yellow, in oblong masses to ca. 2” long terminating shoots; female flowers in dense ball-like masses on long dangling axillary penducles; flowering in early spring as new leaves emerge
  • FRUIT: multiple of capsules forming a prickly globose ball; seeds small and winged
  • TWIGS: very stout, with or without corky wings, which may appear on first year’s growth; spur shoots are common; pith continues, streaked with white and tan, angularly lobed in cross-section
  • BARK: gray, thick, furrowed with corky ridges
  • FORM: large tree to 80-120’ tall and 3-4’ dbh, long lived, to ca. 300 years
  • HABITAT: this species is very frequent, being found in just about any mesic forest, and as an early colonizer of open ground; invades fire-driven habitats when fire has not been adequate
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Facultative (FAC): Occurs in wetlands or non-wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE: southeastern US [USGS County Range Map]
  • USES: important hardwood for lumber, veneer, pulp; ornamental; resin can be used as “chewing gum”
  • WILDLIFE: seeds eaten by many birds and small mammals; wood is used by beaver in dam construction
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. star-shaped leaf
    2. prickly globose fruits
    3. stout twigs that may have corky wings, frequent spur shoots