Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today

 
 

NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.

 
 
 
 

NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.

 
 
 
 

New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.

 
 
 
 

Plant Profiles

Sweetgum 'Golden Treasure'

liquidambar-styraciflua-golden-treasure-640

 

Acid-purple flowers?  'Anne Thompson' geranium.  Lovely.   But those bright yellow-edged leaves?  Incredible!

 

It's Liquidambar 'Golden Treasure', the new hot thing in sweet gums.  So new that I could only get a just-grafted little guy that was a foot tall at best.  Three years later?  A foot and a half tall at best.  For this foliage, I'll wait.  Meanwhile, I'll keep 'Anne Thompson' from smothering everything in its lacy-leaf shade.

 

 

Here's how to grow this showy but very slow-growing tree:

 

Latin Name

Liquidambar styraciflua 'Golden Treasure'

Common Name

'Golden Treasure' sweetgum

Family

Altingiaceae, the Sweetgum family.

What kind of plant is it?

Deciduous tree.

Hardiness

Zones 5 - 9.

Habit

Upright with a single trunk.

Rate of Growth

Slow.

Size in ten years

Five feet tall—I hope—and two feet wide.

Texture

Lively and dense, with deeply-pointed seven-lobed leaves strongly edged in butter yellow.

Grown for

its exceptional foliage, which is the yellow version of L. 'Silver King', whose white-edged leaves have made it justifiably popular as a free-range shade tree and a Spring-pruned ornamental shrub.  'Golden Treasure' seems so slow that it will work for many years as a shrub, instead.

Flowering season

In Spring; the flowers are curious but not really showy.   The spherical prickly "gumball" seed-heads that follow are universal favorites with children, but are also not very showy.

Culture

Sun and decent soil, but even so, this is a slow-growing plant. 

How to handle it

With its leaves widely-edged in bright yellow and in the characteristic star-shaped "gumball tree" shape, 'Golden Treasure' is at once familiar and distinctive.  Its leaves differ only in color from those of 'Silver King', but its rate of growth is only a fraction of that cultivar's. 

 

My challenge since planting a small "this is the newest cool plant" size is to keep it from getting swamped by nearby perennials that are —yipes— two feet tall and shorter.  So plant this beauty where you can keep an eye on it over the several years of its tiny and slow infancy. 

 

If this means that, eventually, you need to do some pruning to keep the tree from crowding a pathway or shading adjacent lawn, well, fabulous for you.  I'll be thrilled when my 'Golden Treasure' is finally tall enough that the clambering stems of an 'Anne Thompson' geranium in the neighborhood don't shade it out.

 

Variegated liquidambars are trees for foliage first, not flowers or the prickly gumball fruits.  But the foliage color is sustained the entire growing season, so the trees are highly desirable.  They accept pruning readily, so can be grown as shrubs or even as a hedge or a row of pollards.  Pruning can be in Fall or Spring.

 

In my experience, as long as they get plenty of sun these are tolerant trees.  They are not phobic about wet feet in the Winter, so you can plant on level ground and even in the flat, rich-soiled bottom-land along rivers, which is favored by plane trees and swamp maples. 

Downsides

The slowness of growth makes this plant a great candidate for compact spaces, but a trial of your patience when you'd like a larger presence.  Plant this tree when you're young!

Variants

Liquidambars are a steadily-expanding cohort.  L. styraciflua can now be had in semi-dwarf as well as columnar forms, and there are variegates with spotted leaves, as well as the white-edge 'Silver King'.  L. acalycina 'Burgundy Flush' is less hardy (only to Zone 6), with new foliage that's a very showy red-burgundy and produced all season.    

Availability

On-line.

Propagation

By grafting.

Native habitat

L. styraciflua is native of the American Southeast.  L. acalycina is native of China.

 
 
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