Autumn Colour from the Sweet Gum Tree
The beautiful autumn colour of Liquidamber styraciflua (Sweet Gum).
Which plant would win your autumn colour contest? I’d be surprised if you can beat the beauty of the Sweet Gum (pictured). Otherwise known as Liquidamber styraciflua, the autumn colour displayed by this tree is simply stunning, the leaves are rich claret or scarlet, beautifully enhanced by the low autumn sun.
Related to the Witch Hazels, in the family Hamamelidaceae, Liquidamber styraciflua is native to the Eastern United States and Mexico. It is a tree suitable for a medium sized garden, not spreading out too much with an upright habit. It grows approximately 30 metres tall and 10 metres wide. It is fully hardy in the UK.
The untrained eye could easily mistake the Sweet Gum for a Japanese Maple. The leaves look very similar to maple leaves, being palmately lobed. They open late in spring, they are glossy bright green before the autumn colour kicks in.
During the winter, when you are mourning the loss of the last leaf to fall there is some attractive and interesting silvery, corky bark to look at, a further aspect of interest to any winter garden.
Liquidamber styraciflua is best grown on soil that is reliably moist, it also helps if the soil is on the acidic side of the pH scale. A sheltered site is ideal if you want your Sweet Gum to hold on to it’s foliage as long as possible in the autumn gales.
It’s trees like this one that really make autumn such a wonderful spectacle. Treat yourself to a Sweet Gum, you won’t be disappointed!