Other Name: Red Gum
Sweet Gum Bark
Sweet Gum Diagram
Sweet Gum Leaf
Sweet Gum Leaves
Sweet Gum Seed
Leaves: Alternate, simple; blades shaped like 5 to 7 pointed stars, each point toothed along the edge, as much as six inches long and nearly as broad. In autumn, the leaves turn a variety of colors, from red to yellow to purple.
Buds: Large, shiny, pointed, sometimes sticky to touch.
Bark: Usually dark gray and broken into scaly ridges.
Twigs: Stout, often bordered by corky wings; leaf scars alternated, with 3 bundle traces.
Flowers: Staminate and pistillate on the same tree crowded together in rounded clusters, opening at about the same time as the leaves unfold.
Fruits: The fruit or seed “ball” is about one inch diameter, covered by numerous short, often sharp projections, with many seeds, most of which are incapable of germinating.
Wood: Hard, strong, durable.
Uses: Lumber, furniture, flooring. The attractive leaves make this tree a handsome ornamental.
Habitat: Bottomland Woods.
Growth Form: Up to 100 feet tall; trunk diameter sometimes more than 3 feet; crown usually pyramidal.
Distinguishing Feature: The star-shaped leaves and leaf color variety in autumn readily distinguish this tree.
Source: Mohlenbrock, Robert. Forest Trees of Illinois. Eighth Edition, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, 1996.