name = Sweetgum
image_width = 240px
image_caption = Sweetgum buds in New Orleans during spring
divisio = Magnoliophyta
genus = "Liquidambar"
genus_authority = L.
subdivision_ranks = Species
subdivision = See text
Sweetgum ("Liquidambar") is a genus of four species of
flowering plants in the family Altingiaceae, though formerly often treated in the Hamamelidaceae. They are all large, deciduous trees, 25-40 m tall, with palmately lobed leaves arranged spirally on the stems. The flowers are small, produced in a dense globular inflorescence1-2 cm diameter, pendulous on a 3-7 cm stem. The fruitis a woody multiple capsule 2-4 cm diameter (popularly called a "gumball"), containing numerous seeds.
Liquidambar acalycina" - Chang's Sweetgum(central & southern China)
Liquidambar formosana" - Chinese Sweetgum(central & southern China, southern Korea, Taiwan, Laos, northern Vietnam).
Liquidambar orientalis" - Oriental Sweetgumor Turkish Sweetgum(southwest Turkey, Greece: Rhodes).
Liquidambar styraciflua" - American Sweetgum (eastern North Americafrom New York to Texasand also eastern Mexicoto Guatemala).
The genus was much more widespread in the
Tertiary, but has disappeared from Europedue to extensive glaciationin the north and the Alps, which has served as a blockade against southward migration. It has also disappeared from western North Americadue to climate change, and also from the unglaciated (but nowadays too cold) Russian Far East. There are several fossilspecies of "Liquidambar", showing its relictstatus today.
The wood is used for furniture, interior finish, paper pulp, veneers and baskets of all kinds. The heartwood once was in furniture, sometimes as imitation mahogany or circassian walnut. It is used widely today in flake and strand boards. Sweetgum is a foodplant for various
Lepidoptera caterpillars, such as the gypsy moth.
References and external links
* Hsu, E. & Andews, S. (2005). Tree of the year: Liquidambar. "International Dendrology Society Yearbook" 2004: 11-45.
* Deterministic Plio-Pleistocene extinctions in the European cool-temperate tree flora. "Ecology Letters" 6 (7): 646-653. July 2003.
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20070607165137/http://www.chemistry.org/portal/a/c/s/1/feature_pro.html?id=c373e90a275ac1578f6a17245d830100 Possible link between sweetgum fruit and fighting avian flu] Highlights of American Chemical Society meeting in Atlanta, American Chemical Society, March 2006.
* [http://www.wildwnc.org/trees/Liquidambar_styraciflua.html Trees of Western North Carolina - Sweetgum]
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sweetgum — sweet gum Liquidambar styraciflua Wendy Smith n. 1. Any of several trees of the genus Liquidambar, especially L. styraciflua of North America and Central America, having palmately lobed leaves, prickly round hanging fruits, and wood used to make… … Universalium
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