The Liquidambar styraciflua growth rate is moderate to rapid. The foliage is palmate, like a maple leaf, but more deeply lobed and star shaped. It is glossy green in the spring and summer, turning to vivid red, yellow and even purple in the fall.
Sweet gum trees are native to the eastern U.S., but grow well throughout U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 to 9. The tree prefers moist, slightly acidic soil, but is adaptable to many soil types, including clay soil, dry or wet soil and soil that is neutral to somewhat alkaline.