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Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Rotundiloba’

Roundleaf Sweetgum

Scientific name: Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Rotundiloba’

Common names: Round-lobed sweetgum, roundleaf sweetgum, alligator-wood

Family: Altingiaceae

Nativity: Eastern North America, parts of Central America

Location: Charlotte, NC

Date: December 5, 2015

Notes: Liquidambar styraciflua, our common native sweetgum, typically has pointed, star-shaped leaves. The sweetgum with round-lobed leaves was discovered in the forests of North Carolina back in the 1930s. It has since been cultivated, but generally considered a rarity. In recent years, it has become more widely available.

I have begun to notice these more and more being used as street trees. Rotundiloba is sterile — no spiny fruits to deal with — which makes it a good choice for this, or for general landscape use. It is also has a narrower spread than the species, which can be a plus.

The fall color of sweetgums is intense and can involve a range of shades from yellow through the oranges and every shade of red all the way to burgundy-black, sometimes all on the same tree at one time. Crushed leaves emit a characteristic spicy scent.

Roundleaf Sweetgum Street Tree

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