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The Butchart Chronicles : October 24, 2014

Liquidambar styraciflua (American sweetgum)

Liquidambar
Upon arriving at The Butchart Gardens in mid to late autumn, whether by car, bus, public transit or foot you will most likely be struck by vibrant orange and red coloured trees in the parking lots. At first glance you might be reminded of the maples of eastern North America, but instead they are of another genus, native to the south east part of N. America - Liquidambar styraciflua.

Liquidambar

Liquidambar (one word) is commonly known as the American sweetgum or just Sweet Gum, characterised by their 5 point leaves and prickly fruits. An economically valuable tree in its native range, it is mostly found as anornamental in the Pacific North West.  It once flourished in a much wider range - fossil records show it as far north as Alaska and Greenland.

Liquidambar

The foliage is dark green in the summer but in the autumn can range from brown and purple to fiery orange, yellows and deep maple-like reds. The Butchart Gardens' Liquidambar tend to the red side of the spectrum. The tree is actually named for the gum-like resin that oozes from the bark when injured - usually in reddish or yellowish amber colour. We grow it here because its colourful autumnal foliage is one of the longest lasting of all our trees in the fall season.