Common Alabama Urban Wood Species: Sweet Gum or Liquidambar
Love the vibrant colors in the fall, but detest the spiky seed balls on the sidewalk. You are not alone.
A highly adaptable tree, sweet gum is found throughout Alabama. It thrives in old fields as well as bottomland hardwood forests. This large tree can reach 120 ft in height. It can grow in almost any soil. The wood responds moderately to steam bending, but it glues, turns, stains, and finishes well.
Why we love it: Sweetgum has grey to reddish-brown heartwood, whereas sapwood is whitish, light pink, or tan. The heartwood and sapwood contrast strongly in color, making a bold statement for a dining room table or console. The variation is also apparent in the porousness, so sweet gum prefers a surface varnish over an oil finish. The sheens of the two parts are hard to coordinate with each other using oil.
Benefits of sweet gum:
- Attractive grain
- Moderately durable
- Generally easy to work
In interior design, sweet gum is used for veneers, interior trim, furniture from tables to cabinetry, but it can also serve as a good wood material for doors.
Sweet gum fun facts:
- Fast-growing tree
- The name comes from the Native Americans who used to scrape off resin from the bark and chew it.