Sweet Gum Liquidambar styraciflua Worplesdon

Description & features

British Grown - The British Grown logo denotes plants and trees that have been both propagated and grown in the UK. Read more

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Bare root guide

Size and quantity

Photo
Size / Height
Price
Quantity
 
30L pot size / 2.4-3.5m
£180.00
70L pot size / 3.0-4.5m
£300.00

All prices include VAT

All prices include VAT

All prices include VAT

All prices include VAT

British Grown - The British Grown logo denotes plants and trees that have been both propagated and grown in the UK. Read more

Product description

LIQUIDAMBAR STYRACIFLUA WORPLESDON – Sweet Gum

Characteristics

Often mistaken for a maple, the sweet gum has similarly-shaped five-lobed leaves. However, while the leaves on the maple are arranged in opposite pairs, those of the Liquidambar appear alternately. Like maple, it is mainly grown for its autumn colour, the leaves turning brilliant shades of purple, crimson, orange and yellow, making it a popular ornamental tree.

Sweet gum is another early introduction from the eastern states of America, where it is often found in swampy regions. In these conditions it can grow as tall as 45m (150ft) but is often much shorter and rarely grows to half that height in Britain. 

Liquidambar 'Worplesdon' is a selected variety of sweet gum chosen for its reliability in producing fiery shades of red, orange and yellow in the autumn (although autumn colour is variable year to year due to number of factors). It is fairly fast growing tree with an even, upright, conical habit.

Where to grow

Liquidambar grows in moist fertile soils, preferring warm summers and a bit of protection to grow well.  It is perfectly hardy in the UK, however when planted in windy spots the top branches can snap off - it is therefore best planted in a sheltered spot.

Did you know?

A Spanish naturalist by the name of Hernandez was the first European to discover the tree in the early 16th century. It was given its botanical name because of its aromatic gum, which he described as 'liquid amber'. It wasn't until 1681 that it was finally introduced to Britain by the missionary plant collector John Bannister.

Worplesdon is a village in Surrey which is home to Merrist Wood College, one of the foremost arboriculture colleges in the UK and near to the famous nursery growing area of Woking.

Features

Mature height
Medium - 10-15 metres
Spread
5-10 metres
Shape / habit
Pyramidal
Growth rate
Medium
Soil type
Clay
Chalk/Limestone
Light sandy
Sun levels
Full sun
Difficulty / hard to grow
Easy
Evergreen / Deciduous
Deciduous
Season of interest
Autumn
Summer
Autumn colour
Orange
Purple
Red
Yellow
Leaf
Green
Foliage
Dense
Late to leaf
Moisture levels
Wet/Water logged sites
Other
Needs shelter
Uses
Screening
Parkland Tree
Garden Tree
City/Urban Sites

Features

Mature height
Medium - 10-15 metres
Spread
5-10 metres
Shape / habit
Pyramidal
Growth rate
Medium
Soil type
Clay
Chalk/Limestone
Light sandy
Sun levels
Full sun
Difficulty / hard to grow
Easy
Evergreen / Deciduous
Deciduous
Season of interest
Autumn
Summer
Autumn colour
Orange
Purple
Red
Yellow
Leaf
Green
Foliage
Dense
Late to leaf
Moisture levels
Wet/Water logged sites
Other
Needs shelter
Uses
Screening
Parkland Tree
Garden Tree
City/Urban Sites

Aftercare

Pruning Liquidambar Styraciflua Worplesdon

Liquidambar Styraciflua Worplesdon has a natural pyramidal shape to the crown and well-spaced branches. This means that very little pruning is needed on established trees.

When training a young tree there should be a naturally strong leader, but if there are competing leaders remove these. If left to establish they will dramatically affect the appearance of the tree.

What time of year should I prune? Prune from late autumn to early spring. This is when the tree is dormant.

For the continued healthy growth of your trees, shrubs or hedging it is vital that you follow the advice below.

Watering

The main reason that plants die within 12 months of having been planted is lack of water.  It is essential throughout the spring and summer, to give a heavy enough watering to enable the water to penetrate right down to the deepest root level of the tree.  In hot dry spells give the equivalent of 2 bucketfuls every three days.

Weed Control

One of the most common causes of lack of water is competition from grass.  When trees are first establishing, the grass roots would be at the same level as the tree roots and are far more efficient at taking up water and thus choke the tree.  It is vital for 3 years after planting that your tree or hedge has a circle or strip one  metre wide completely free of grass.  The way to eliminate grass in order of effectiveness is:

  1. Spray off the grass with a glyphosate based weed killer such as Roundup.  Apply each year for the first 3 years.  It is best applied when the tree is dormant as it is absorbed through green leaves and kills the plant off at the roots.
  2. Firmly fit a mulch mat around the base of the tree by tucking the edges into the soil and put a thick layer of bark mulch on top of this.  This can be done after the initial spraying with glyphosate and should avoid the need for further spraying.

Mowing or strimming is NOT an answer to the problem.  Each time you mow, the grass will grow back more vigorously and strimming invariably leads to lacerated trunks.

Staking

If trees are not correctly secured they will rock in the planting pit. Roots not firmly in contact with the soil are unable to take up moisture and nutrients, resulting in die back or death of the tree.  Check, particularly after windy weather, that stakes are still solidly in the ground keeping the base of the trunk firm.  The purpose of the stakes is to anchor the roots.   Flexing in the wind, higher up the trunk, is not necessarily a problem if the roots are firm.

Bellow is list of the correct system to use to secure your trees.

  • 40/60, 60/80, 80/100 whips - Unless rabbit/deer problem no need to stake.
  • 100/125, 125/150  1.2m Cane and Easi tie.
  • 150/175  1.2m square stake and a buckle tie and spacer.
  • 175/250, 6/8, 8/10 15L 1.65 Tree stake and a buckle tie and spacer.
  • All larger trees. 2 x 1.65 Tree stake and cross rail with 38mm cushion spacer and 1m of 38mm strapping.

Ties

Always use our recommended tree ties or strapping.  These are designed and manufactured with the correct amount of give to hold the tree firm without strangling it. They should be checked at the end of each growing season for adjustment as the trunk thickens.  Non proprietary materials such as baler twine will cut into the bark and should not be used.

Protection from Animal Damage

Rabbits, deer, sheep, cattle and horses can all potentially damage trees.  Ask us for advice on the most appropriate guards for your trees or hedge.  Squirrels are also a terrible pest when trees get to about 20ft tall but there is no protection available.


Comments

By Jean Rawlinson on 16/09/2016

Can you tell me if this tree is suitable for a coastal position.( Styraciflua Worplesdon)
Regards JEAN.

By Simon on 21/09/2016

Hello Jean,

Unfortunately Liquidambar is somewhat brittle, so not recommended for exposed sites.

By Adrian FR Davies on 23/11/2016

Is the tree honey fungus resistant.

By Simon on 25/11/2016

Hello Adrian,

I’m afraid it’s not completely resistant, though it is not one of the most frequently attacked trees. Davidia involucrata, Gingko biloba and Parrotia persica are rarely affected, so you could consider one of these as an alternative.

By Hazel Bunston on 10/09/2017

I see from comments that liquidambar is not recommended for coastal sites. Can you recommend something for wet and often windy sites (South Hams), please.

By Simon on 15/09/2017

Hello Hazel,
For a large tree, you could look at hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), or for something smaller, Frosted Thorn (Crataegus prunifolia Splendens).

By Viv on 22/10/2017

Hello. I bought this tree from you in September 2011. It has grown really well and is now about 20 feet high!
I have never pruned it but am wanting to now as its getting a bit big. Is it ok to prune it back quite abit or will that damage the tree? I want to try to lollie pop it altho I think I may have left it too long as I read you should only gently prune them. Also the wind across the garden has made it lean quite alot. Could I possibly stake it to straighten the trunk? Thanks in advance.

By Simon on 27/10/2017

Dear Viv,
Liquidambar Worplesdon isn’t a small tree I’m afraid, so if you want to keep it at 20ft you will face an ongoing challenge. Liquidambar Gumball, another type we supply, is top-grafted and will naturally keep a lollipop shape at a short height. Hard pruning your Liquidambar isn’t ideal and may spoil the shape – it might be best to consult a tree surgeon. Ideally you only want to take off about a third of the branches at a time, leaving plenty of foliage so as not to weaken the tree. Undertake pruning in winter.

Depending on how flexible the trunk is, you might be able to train it by attaching a stake, so do try this.

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