Sweetgum - 10 seeds

Sweetgum - 10 seeds


Liquidambar Styraciflua is a deciduous tree with leaves that turn splendid yellow, various shades of orange, burgundy purple and many different shades of red in the autumn. It is an attractive bonsai tree whether it has green leaves, colored leaves or no leaves. Liquidambar trees are deciduous, and the leaves put on a spectacular show each fall: Their fall colors include shades of orange, yellow, gold, wine-purple and various red shades. Liquidambar consists of four species: Liquidambar Formosiana, Liquidambar Acalcyna, Liquidambar Styraciflua and Liquidambar Orientalis. The trees from all four species are resistant to pests and diseases.

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Liquidambar styraciflua, commonly called sweet gum, is a low-maintenance deciduous shade tree that is native from Connecticut to Florida and Missouri further south to Texas, Mexico and Central America. In Missouri, it typically occurs in moist low woods and along streams only in the far southeastern corner of the state (Steyermark). It typically grows to 60-80’ (less frequently to 120’) tall with a straight trunk. Habit is pyramidal in youth, but it gradually develops an oval-rounded crown as it matures. Glossy, long-stalked, deep green leaves (4-7” across) have toothed margins. Each leaf has 5-7 pointed, star-shaped lobes. Leaves are fragrant when bruised. Fall color at its best is a brilliant mixture of yellows, oranges, purples and reds. Branchlets may have distinctive corky ridges. Non-showy, monoecious, yellow-green flowers appear in spherical clusters in April-May. Female flowers give way to the infamous gum balls which are hard, spherical, bristly fruiting clusters to 1.5” diameter. Gum balls mature to dark brown and usually remain on the tree through the winter, but can create clean-up problems during the general period of December through April as the clusters fall to the ground. In pedestrian areas, fruiting clusters must be cleaned up because they not only create unsightly litter, but also create human safety problems (e.g., turning an ankle by inadvertently stepping on a cluster). Tree wood has been widely used for a number of applications including flooring, furniture and home interiors. The gum obtained from genus plants has been used in the past for a variety of purposes, including chewing gum, incense, perfumes, folk medicines and flavorings.

The tree prefers a full-sun location. It requires protection from extremely frigid conditions, especially freezing wind. Regular watering is not required: Allow the soil to become somewhat dry before giving it water

The tree can be re-potted every other year in springtime, and this should be done while it is still in its dormancy. At the time of re-potting, prune the roots heavily. A good-quality bonsai soil will get the plant off to a good start, and the soil should be kept moist while the roots become established. It is easy for a bonsai enthusiast to increase his or her collection of liquidambar trees: New trees can be grown from the strong root suckers that attach themselves to some of the roots. Another way is to grow plants from the seeds of the fruit that grows on the tree.

iquidambars are not very particular about the type of soil or amount of drainage they have and will live for a long time in one pot. In spite of this, they need good soil for bonsais which is 60 per cent aggregate and 40 per cent organic matter.

The tree can be fertilized with fertilizer that is intended for shrubs or broadleaf trees to boost vigorous growth. It should be fed every two weeks during the growing season. It should be watered when the soil gets slightly dry. If the drainage is good, it is not easily overwatered, but it should not be watered on a routine basis.

Pruning can take place throughout the growing season and should not be done during dormancy. Sharp scissors should always be used on new growth so that the new branch does not get crushed or torn.

Shoots should be pruned back to one or two pairs of leaves unless a new branch is desired at that place. Cutting should not be flush with the branch. The branch may die, and end the new growth that comes from the base of the existing leaves.

If pruned in this way, the branches will most likely die back and the wounds will not heal well. This is especially true for Asian Liquidambar.

The top growth should be carefully pruned back. If this is not done, the lower branches will become weak and die back. Liquidambar responds well to leaf pruning. The scars will heal quicker if it is pruned during the growing season.

Liquidambar trees produce buds that are delicate and are easily bumped off the tree. For this reason, wiring should only be done before the buds begin or after it is in full leaf and the new growth is beginning to harden. Pruning is the best way to shape large branches as they are difficult to bend.