Sweetgum Tree Facts for Kids

A Picture of a Sweetgum Tree
  • Common Name: Sweetgum Tree
  • Scientific Name: Liquidambar styraciflua
  • Genus: Liquidambar
  • Family: Altingiaceae
  • Order: Saxifragales
  • Distribution: Parts of North America

18 Sweetgum Tree Facts for Kids

  1. The sweetgum tree is a medium to large tree species that is a member of the Liquidambar genus.
  2. The sweetgum tree is one of 15 species in the Liquidambar genus.
  3. The scientific species name for the sweetgum tree is Liquidambar styraciflua.
  4. The sweetgum tree is a deciduous tree, which means it sheds its leaves annually.
  5. The sweetgum tree is found in the southeastern United States, Mexico and Central America.
  6. The sweetgum tree has been brought to Australia and is grown as an ornamental tree.
  7. You can easily identify a sweetgum tree by its hard, spiky fruit and its star shaped leaves.
  8. The leaves of a sweetgum tree have five points and are shaped like a star.
  9. The leaves of a sweetgum tree are dark green. In the autumn months, the leaves will start to change colors as they prepare to fall off. The colors can range from bright orange to deep purple.
  10. The sweetgum tree produces hard seeds that have spikes. These spiked seed structures are often called gum balls, sticker balls or spike balls.
  11. The seeds produced by the sweetgum tree are dispersed by animals. They’ll get stuck to their fur and be carried away from the parent tree and eventually fall off.
  12. The average diameter of a mature sweetgum tree’s trunk is between 24 and 36 inches.
  13. The average height of a mature sweetgum tree is between 50 and 70 feet. However, in favorable growing conditions it can reach a height well over 100 feet.
  14. It’s estimated that a sweetgum tree could have a maximum lifespan of 400 years.
  15. The sweetgum tree is a popular source for commercial hardwoods in the United States.
  16. The resin produced by the sweetgum tree is used for medicinal and recreational purposes.
  17. Some of the early pioneers in America would use the resin from the sweetgum tree as chewing gum.
  18. Native Americans would use the resin from the sweetgum tree to maintain dental hygiene.

Additional Resources on the Sweetgum Tree