G6800 Selecting Landscape Plants: Shade Trees | Page 24 | University of Missouri Extension

Revised June 2008

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Selecting Landscape Plants: Shade Trees

Sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua)

Large trees

Sweet gum

  • Maximum height
    80 feet
  • Relative growth rate
  • Freedom from insect pests
  • Freedom from disease problems
  • Resistance to storm damage
  • Will grow on poorly drained soil
  • Will grow in hot, dry areas
  • Easy to transplant
  • Withstands city conditions

The glossy green star-shaped leaves of the sweet gum are its most ornamental characteristic. Where it is given room to develop, few trees will approach it in symmetrical beauty. The ball-shaped fruit hang on the tree long after the leaves have fallen, giving added interest to the tree, but they are a nuisance in the lawn once they have fallen. A disease called bleeding canker has attacked sweet gums in some parts of the state. There is no known cure for the disease, and it may be wise to choose some other species for planting in areas where the sweet gum has already been extensively planted.

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