Sweet Gum, a large deciduous tree that grows in much of the eastern half of the United States and south through Central America. It is also called red gum and bilsted. The tree commonly grows from about 60 to 100 feet (18 to 30 m) high with a trunk diameter of 1 1/2 to 3 feet (45 to 90 cm). Because of its attractive form and brilliant red autumn leaf color, sweet gum is a popular ornamental tree.
The leaves are star-shaped, with five to seven points, and are as much as six inches (15 cm) wide. The fruit, a spiny sphere attached to a long stalk, stays on the tree through the winter.
Sweet gum is commercially grown for its wood, which is used to make furniture, cabinets, and veneer. A resinous gum called storax is extracted from the bark and used to perfume soaps and in certain medicines.
The sweet gum is Liquidambar styraciflua of the witch hazel family, Hamamelidaceae.