Liquidambar styraciflua

 

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Family: Hamamelidaceae

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sweetgum

 

 

 

The genus Liquidambar contains three to four species that grow in North and Central America [1] and Asia [2]. All species look alike microscopically. The word liquidambar is from the Spanish common name in Mexico (indirectly from Latin liquid and amber), in reference to the fragrant resin.

Liquidambar styraciflua-alligator-tree, alligatorwood, ambarwood, american mahogany, blisted, delta redgum, figured gum, gum, gumtree, gumwood, hazel, hazel pine, hazelwood, incense-tree, liquidambar, mulberry, opossum-tree, plain redgum, quartered redgum, redgum, sapgum, sapwood hazel pine, satin walnut, satinwood, splint sapgum, splinted sapgum, starleaf gum, sycamore gum, whitegum.

 

Distribution

Sweetgum occurs naturally in the southeastern United States. Its range extends from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, south to Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, and east to the Atlantic coast.

 

The Tree

Sweetgum trees grow to heights of 100 ft (30 m), with diameters of 3 ft (1 m).

 

The Wood

General

The sapwood of sweetgum is white to light pink, while the heartwood is reddish brown to brown. The grain is interlocked, producing an attractive grain, but causing problems in seasoning. The wood is moderately hard, stiff, and heavy.

 

Mechanical Properties (2-inch standard)

 

 

 

 

Compression

 

 

 

 

Specific

gravity

MOE

x106 lbf/in2

MOR

lbf/in2

Parallel

lbf/in2

Perpendicular

lbf/in2

WMLa

in-lbf/in3

Hardness

lbf

Shear

lbf/in2

Green

0.46

1.20

7,100

3,040

370

10.1

600

990

Dry

0.52

1.64

12,500

6,320

620

11.9

850

1,600

aWML = Work to maximum load.

References: (59, 98).

 

 

 

 

Drying and Shrinkage

Type of shrinkage

Percentage of shrinkage
(green to final moisture content)

0% MC

6% MC

20% MC

Tangential

10.2

7.9

3.3

Radial

5.3

4.2

1.7

Volumetric

15.8

12.0

5.0

Sweetgum shrinks considerably in drying and does not stay in place well during use. It has a tendency to cup or check when exposed to the weather.
References: 0% MC (98),
6% and 20% MC (90).

Kiln Drying Schedulesa

 

Stock

Condition

4/4, 5/4, 6/4

8/4

10/4

12/4

16/4

Standard

T8-C4

T5-C3

T5-C2

T5-B2

1-in. squares

T12-F6

2-in. squares

T11-D5

aReferences (6, 86).

 

Working Properties: Sweetgum is above average in turning, boring, and steam bending. It is intermediate in planing, shaping, bending, splitting and holding nails and screws. It requires pretreatment before gluing.

Durability: Rated as slightly or nonresistant to heartwood decay.

Preservation: No information available at this time.

Uses: Lumber (boxes, crates, dimension stock, furniture parts and fixtures), veneer, plywood, slack cooperage, railroad ties, fuel and pulpwood.

Toxicity: No information available at this time.

 

Additional Reading and References Cited (in parentheses)

6.?Boone, R.S.; Kozlik, C.J.; Bois, P.J.; Wengert, E.M. 1988. Dry kiln schedules for commercial woods-temperate and tropical. Gen. Tech. Rep. FPL-GTR-57. Madison, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory.

29.?Elias, T.S. 1980. The complete trees of North America, field guide and natural history. New York: van Nostrand Reinhold Company.

46. ?Johnson, R.L. 1985. Sweetgum, an American wood. FS-266. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.

55. ?Little, Jr., E.L. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. U.S. Government Printing Office.

59. Markwardt, L.J.; Wilson, T.R.C. 1935. Strength and related properties of woods grown in the United States. Tech. Bull. 479. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. U.S. Government Printing Office.

68. Panshin, A.J.; de Zeeuw, C. 1980. Textbook of wood technology, 4th ed. New York: McGraw—Hill Book Co..

74. Record, S.J.; Hess R.W. 1943. Timbers of the new world. New Haven, CT: Yale
University Press.

86. Simpson, W.T. 1991. Dry kiln operator's manual. Ag. Handb. 188. Madison, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory.

90. Summitt, R.; Sliker, A. 1980. CRC handbook of materials science. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, Inc. Vol. 4.

98. U.S. Department of Agriculture. 1987. Wood handbook: wood as an engineering material. Agric. Handb. 72. (Rev.) Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture.
466 p.