Liquidambar styraciflua
Photo Credit: Sweet Gum
Britton & Brown
Botanical name: Liquidambar styraciflua
Common name: sweet gum, red gum, sapgum, starleaf-gum, bisted
Group: dicot
Family: Hamamelidaceae
Growth type: tree
Duration: perennial, deciduous
Origin: native
Foliage: alternate; simple, 5-7 pointed lobes
Fruit: a dangling spiked ball filled with seeds
Habitat: wide variety of habitats especially rich moist soils
Range in New Jersey: statewide
Heritage ranking, if any: n/a
Misc. Common wetland tree species, sometimes appearing in large stands after disturbance. Easily identified by its distinctive palmately-lobed leaves and unique fruit, which is a cluster of capsules concreted together to form the characteristic “gumball.”

It is a fast growing tree that is adaptive to a great many habitats. USDA cites uses as: lumber, veneer, plywood, slack cooperage, railroad ties, fuel, pulpwood, furniture, veneer, interior trim and papers. Its seeds are consumed by mammals and birds alike.

USDA fact sheet

Credit: USDA United States Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service data base