Out of the Woods: Celebrating Trees in Public Gardens
The Third New York Botanical Garden Triennial


Sweet Gum 

Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Burgundy’
Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia, California

Sweet gum is a large tree native to the southeastern, east-central, and central United States. Its star shaped leaves turn orange, red, burgundy and yellow in the fall. Some twigs have a unique cork like growth called wings, which I have included in my painting.


Sweet gum is planted along streets, in parks, and in botanical gardens throughout Southern California where I now live. I used to enjoy the fall colors, especially the Japanese maple, in my hometown of Kyoto, Japan. Now, whenever I see sweet gum around Southern California I am reminded of my hometown. Thus, it is an important tree for me.


The Los Angeles County Arboretum is also a special place for me because I took my first botanical art classes there. In this arboretum, several sweet gum, both Liquidambar styraciflua 'Burgundy' and 'Palo Alto,' are planted together, and with the accompanying view of the mountains in the background this sight is quite beautiful. I particularly like 'Burgundy' because of its lovely burgundy color, along with orange, red and yellow. This is why I chose sweet gum for my subject.


This tree is called sweet gum for its sweet brownish sap, from under the bark, which was used for chewing gum. The tree is also used for its pulp and lumber, in the manufacture of plywood and veneer. Its seeds are eaten by birds, squirrels and other small mammals. I am a floral designer in Los Angeles and I often use sweet gum branches when making fall arrangements and I also use its spherical spiky seed balls for making seasonal wreaths.

Read more about this artist’s work: 20th Annual International
  • © 2017 Mitsuko Schultz
    Sweet Gum
    Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Burgundy’
    Watercolor on paper
    11" x 14"