Liquidambar styraciflua. © Trees Of The World.net, Flickr nc-sa 2.0
The sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) belongs to the Hamamelidaceae family. It is also called the "American red gum", "American sweet gum", and "satin walnut".
This tree has a top that is at first conical, and then widens. Its brown, cracked bark becomes very corky over time. Its leaves are petiolate and about fifteen centimetres long. Deciduous with 5 lobes, the leaves are finely chiselled in appearance, with beautiful scarlet red, purple and copper autumn shades. Its male flowers are spherical capsules covered with spines, while its female flowers are greenish yellow. Its round fruit, in spiky capsules, are similar to the fruit of the plane tree. They turn brown when ripe in October, and remain on the tree throughout the winter.
Fruit of the sweet gum. © Wayne s World 7, Flickr CC by nc-nd 2.0
This ornamental tree comes from the temperate forests of the United States, from Connecticut down through the north of Florida and into Louisiana. It was introduced into Europe in 1681.
Author: Michel Caron
American red gum. © Eamon-Flickr 20