Amber Tree or Starfish Tree (Liquidambar) - marvel, cultivate and multiply

Amber Tree or Starfish Tree (Liquidambar) - marvel, cultivate and multiply

The Indian Summer has a name: Amberbaum. The plant captivates in the third season with beautiful reds, which look for in many a garden of its peers.


The Amberbaum comes from North America, from river valleys and damp mountain slopes. There it is as typical as in Germany the oak. In Europe, the tree was first cultivated since the 17th century. The botanical name & quot; Liquidambar & ldquo; derives from the words & quot; liquid & ldquo; (Latin for liquid) and & quot; anbar & ldquo; (Arabic for amber) and translates to mean "liquid amber".

Appearance, inflorescence and flowering

The Amber tree is one of the tall trees that can grow up to 45 meters high. The maximum width is ten meters. It is therefore one of the tallest deciduous trees in Europe. The bark of the tree is gray to brown, the branches arranged alternately. The leaves are divided into petiole and leaf blade - the latter resembles in appearance of the maple. Most varieties have five to siebenlapprige, green leaves, but there are also green-white variegated varieties. The leaf margin is sawn. In autumn, the leaves turn into a variety of red, orange or yellow tones. The sweetgum bears both sexes of the flowers separately on a tree. The male flowers are greenish upright in elongated ears. The female flowers are spherical (chestnut-shaped), hanging and accompanied by a bract. They are more noticeable than the male flowers. The flowering time is in May. The fruits are formed by the female flower, a woody capsule with two flaps. They have a diameter of two to three centimeters. There are many seeds in it.


There are several varieties of the sweetgum tree that do not grow anywhere in the world because of their requirements. A distinction is made between:

  • Amber Tree (Liquidambar styraciflua)
  • Amber Tree (Liquidambar formosana)
  • Amber Tree (Liquidambar acalycina)
  • Amber Amber Tree (Liquidambar orientalis)

The Amber Tree is among others in China, Korea, Taiwan, Laos and Vietnam native. The Oriental sweetgum is found in Greece and Turkey. In local climes, only the American sweetgum is present, as it is the only species that is hardy. From this variety different cultivars are offered. For example:

  • Liquidambar styraciflua "Stella"
  • Liquidambar styraciflua "Worplesdon"
  • Liquidambar styraciflua "Variegata"
  • Liquidambar styraciflua "Octoberglut"
  • Liquidambar styraciflua "Gumball"
  • Liquidambar styraciflua "Variegata"
  • Amberbaum styraciflua "Silver King"

The variety & quot; Stella & ldquo; is a reintroduction with deep cut dark green foliage. This tree can grow up to 25 meters high and six meters wide. In autumn, the leaves turn dark red. From the US comes the new breeding "Worplesdon", which is particularly symmetrical and weak in growth. The plant can grow up to ten meters high, the red color of the foliage resembles a magnificent fire. The variety & quot; Oktoberglut & ldquo; has a red-yellow-orange fall color. It is suitable for small gardens as it only gets up to three meters high. The variety & quot; Gumball & ldquo; is also referred to as a ball-Amberbaum, as it offers a spherical crown with red-yellow autumn color. It is one of the low-growing varieties with a total height of up to two meters. The Amberbaum also reaches the same height "Variegata". But here the foliage is white and colorful. This variety can also be kept in buckets. The Amber Tree & quot; Silver King & ldquo; gets up to five feet high. He has a reddish-brown bark and green-white variegated foliage. In autumn the leaves shine in orange, red or purple.


In addition to the beautiful sight, especially in autumn, this deciduous tree offers other uses, including:

  • in medicine
  • as a wood raw material
  • as a fragrance
  • as a raw material of chewing gum production

Das Resin (Storax) of the Amberbaums is medically usable, in folklore, it is known as an anti-inflammatory and expectorant. Therefore, these components of Amberbaums for colds and cough are used. But as a material, the plant is popular, its wood is particularly suitable for processing into veneers and art tables. The wood of the sweetgum tree is very similar to walnut in color and smell. Therefore, in the trade, it often encounters the buyer as "satin walnut". The intense smell of the plant also makes it a fragrant plant. The resin contains cinnamic acid and vanillin, which are used in aromatherapy. But these ingredients are also used in tobacco products, soaps and perfumes. Even the Indians used the resin of the sweetgum as chewing gum. Therefore, it is not surprising that this substance also gained importance in the industrial production of chewing gum. Today, it is used more as a flavoring, as well as in baked goods.


The sweetgum loves the sun. Only if it is allowed to enjoy as many rays as possible, the plant will reward the gardener in autumn with a particularly intense color. Therefore, the Amberbaum should always be housed in a sunny spot. Even with the earth, the plant is not exactly undemanding. An acidic soil is needed, the pH should be around 6. The soil should be as humus and mixed with clay, slightly moist and permeable to water. Wind does not like the sweetgum, so the location should be in a sheltered position. Standing wetness does not bother immediately, only lasting waterlogging damages the plant.

The Amberbaum should be better kept as a specimen plant, because he draws the viewer's gaze immediately on himself. In the middle of a lawn, for example, it seems almost majestically enthroned and magical.

Watering and fertilizing

As the location already suggests, the sweetgum tree loves the moisture. This is based solely on its origin from the valleys of North America. Therefore, proper maintenance of a sweetgum also includes keeping the tree-pulp moist. Mulch can not hurt here, because it provides the roots with nutrients and keeps the soil moist. Grass cut is another alternative. During dry summer days, the root area should also be supplied with water. The Amberbaum loves rainwater or decalcified tap water. The tree also enjoys fertilization. From May to August, some compost or a mineral fertilizer should be given every 14 days. From September, the tree prepares for the winter season. Here the fertilization should be adjusted, so that the tree does not drive out further and then the frost can not withstand.

Correct cutting

In terms of cut the Amberbaum is fairly easy to maintain, because the round to conical crown develops the Amberbaum almost by itself , A cut is therefore only the care of the tree, not the shape and appearance. Therefore, in the fall deadwood and crippled branches should be removed. Also, crossing, inward branches can harm the tree. In the spring, frost damage should be removed before budding: cut off frozen branches and twigs.

Plant and multiply

There are several ways to plant or to grow a sweetgum. The gardener can

  • sow by fruit
  • or work with pegs

Although the sweetgum tree has a large fruit with many seeds in it, most are sterile and can not be sown. Anyone who still wants to plant or propagate the tree by means of seeds should therefore purchase seeds from specialist retailers that ripen better. The procedure is elaborate: First, the seeds must be kept moist for two to four weeks at around 20 degrees in seedling soil regularly. Then they put in the fridge for about two months: wrapped in foil in a sand sausage. Then they return to the potting soil, initially at five to 12 degrees Celsius. Only when two cotyledons show, the young plant can be placed in individual pots. Once the vase is completely rooted, the sweetgum tree can be planted in the garden. The propagation by means of Steckhölzer is faster and less complicated. Here shoots are taken in the fall, which are one to two years old and between 15 and 20 inches long. These are placed singly or in groups in pots containing the same nutrient-poor soil. At 5 to 12 degrees Celsius, they must be kept moist over the winter to drive roots.


The American sweetgum is the only species that is hardy in the local area. However, young trees should be supported with a little protection for the cold season. A layer of foliage, straw or spruce is suitable above the root area. The crown should be wrapped with jute or fleece or slipped over. Bucket specimens can be brought into a frost-free area over the winter. In mature trees, it is only necessary to protect the bark from the change of frost and strong sunlight. It does not always have to be the white paint, even wooden slats or bast mats around the tree trunk protect the plant.

In the spring the winter protection can be removed, as soon as the temperatures do not sink permanently under the freezing point. If the winter protection is preserved for too long, it may form mold and damage the plant.

Toxicity and Ingredients

Although the resin of the sweetgum tree is used in medicine and other fields, it does not mean that the plant is non-toxic is. Because the resin is processed for this purpose. Unaffected, however, it may cause irritation and poisoning in humans and animals.

Susceptibility to diseases and pests

There are no known diseases or pests that can endanger the sweetgrower. However, if the plant does not grow as it should, it is usually due to care mistakes. In some cases, the location is not sunny enough, the soil is not sufficiently loose or there is a lack of water and nutrients. In particular, too little moisture can cause the tree to die.

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

What is a sweetgum?
Sweetgum trees (Liquidambar) belong to the genus Witch-nut Family (Altingiaceae).

Where can I buy a sweetgum
Amber trees are available as nursery plants in tree nurseries or garden centers, but also online.

How much does a sweetgum cost?
Depending on size and size Young amber trees cost between 20 and 50 euros on average.

How and when should you cut the sweetgum?
The cut can be done in April, summer, autumn or winter. Generally, however, a cut is not absolutely necessary.

How to plant the sweetgum tree?
The sweetgum tree should be planted in the garden either in late spring or in early autumn. In general, spring is better suited for planting, because young sweetgum trees are still sensitive to frost. Important is a large planting hole, which should be twice as wide as the root ball. The roots must be used so deeply that the finishing point is just below the ground. A stabilizing pile is required. Then it is filled with loose earth and poured alluvial. A thick layer of mulch can be applied additionally.

When does the sweetgum tree drive out and show first leaves?
The onset of sprouting depends on the weather. The sweetgum usually shows its first leaves in April. However, after very frosty winters, it can also last until May.

When does the sweetgum blossom?
The sweetgum usually blooms in May. However, older specimens begin to flower.

When does the sweetgum lose its leaves?
The sweetgum loses its leaves in late autumn, when many other deciduous trees have already thrown off their foliage.

When does the sweetgum bear fruit?
The prickly capsule fruits show up in autumn.

How tall is the Amber tree?
Depending on the species, location and care, a sweetgum tree can grow 20 to 45 meters tall.

How fast does a sweetgum tree grow?
Especially young amber trees grow rather slowly compared to other trees.

How old is a sweetgum?
The sweetgum can turn 20 years old.

How broad is the sweetgum?
It grows up to ten meters in width.

Why is it when the sweetgum tree does not show any autumn color?
If the soil is too chalky or the location too shady, the beautiful autumn coloring. In addition, the autumn days should be mild and the nights cold, so that the foliage turns colorful.

Some of the American sweetgum is irritant to poisonous.
If the sweetgum is a deep root ?

The sweetgum tree forms a heart-shaped and deep root. It is therefore one of the deep-rooted trees.
Is the Amber Tree hardy?

If the site is well protected, older Amber trees without winter protection are hardy down to -25 degrees Celsius.
Which soil is suitable for the Amber tree?

The earth should be fresh, nutritious and loamy. The sweetgum tree can not cope with a compacted soil. It is therefore advisable to mix in a little sand to loosen up the substrate. Where does the sweetgum originally come from?

Amber trees are native to Asia, Canada and North America.

Class: Bedecktsamer (Magnoliopsida)

Order: Saxifragales
Family: Altingiaceae
Genus: Sweetgum trees
Scientific Name



The Amber Tree is one of the most beautiful autumn trees. Returning from North America, he offers a play of colors without equal, especially in autumn. The leaves, which are as flame-red as possible, enrich gardens and parks alike. In the care the Amberbaum is not particularly demanding. A lot of sun and moisture are important to him.

Artikelbild: © janaph / Shutterstock