Liquidambar styraciflua is known as the American sweetgum. It is a deciduous tree that can be found in southeastern U.S., as well as southern Mexico and Central America. The sweetgum is a fast-growing tree that develops a significant taproot that tolerate high moisture levels in soil. It is used for its lumber, and is one of the most common sources of hardwood and plywood, but also produces spectacular colors as it drops its leaves in the fall. The sweetgum is a monoecious species and is pollinated primarily by wind. The sweetgum produces a resin that can harden and be used for chewing gum as well as medicinal purposes. Some other fun facts about the American sweetgum include that it provides protection and food for many forest animals, including squirrels, deer, doves, and chipmunks. It can be especially resistant to attack by insects, which makes them very helpful trees in reforestation projects and reclamations of former mineral mines. Finally, sweetgum trees can fix nitrogen and promote soil health.
Our American sweetgum is situated in a beautiful green area between OML and Kroon Hall. It offers a calming presence in the heart of the science buildings at Yale, and is surely a special tree to observe, especially in the autumn.