Virtues: We love ‘Slender Silhouette’ American sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Slender Silhouette’) for its very narrow shape. This tall, thin tree is perfect for tight spaces, small gardens or as a striking vertical accent. Some see American sweetgums as a nuisance for the fruit ( a spiky seed-filled ball) that they drop. ‘Slender Silhouette’ produces only a little fruit, and it falls in a small area since the tree is so narrow. Nice fall color. Quick to grow.
Common name: ‘Slender Silhouette’ American sweetgum
Botanical name: Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Slender Silhouette’
Foliage: Deciduous, star-shaped. Dark green in summer, turning yellow to deep red in fall.
Flower: Inconspicuous white flowers in spring. Seed-filled, spiky-textured balls develop and drop in the fall, but not in great quantity.
Habit: Fastigiate, or columnar, deciduous tree growing 35 to 50 feet tall and just 4 feet wide. Bark develops deep furrows as the tree matures.
Season: Year-round for shape. Fall for colorful foliage. Furrowed bark lends winter interest.
Origin: Selection of American sweetgum. ‘Slender Sihlouette’ was introduced by Don Shadow of Shadow Nursery, who found the 60-foot-tall, 3-foot-wide original growing nearby a railroad track. The species is native to low, moist woods and coastal plains of roughly the eastern half of North America, south of New England, all the way into Central America.
Cultivation: Grow in full sun to part shade, in moist but well-drained soil. Grows quickly. USDA Zones 5–8.
Image courtesy of PlantPlaces.com.