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Red gum comes from the heartwood of the tree and takes on red tones that range from light red to reddish brown with dark streaks. The irregular grain is frequently interlocked and has a fine, consistent texture. The irregular grain often produces an attractive figure.

Formal Name: Liquidambar styraciflua

Other Names: American red gum, sap gum, starleaf gum, sweetgum, sapgum, satin walnut or bilsted


Red gum grows along the East Coast of North American from Connecticut southward to central Florida, and also extends westward to Missouri, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. It can also be found sparingly in northwestern and central Mexico, as well as Guatemala, Belize, Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

Working Properties

Red gum is a moderately heavy wood that works easily. However, gum deposits can cause a slight blunting effect on cutting tools. While red gum is a straight hardwood, it is prone to warping and, therefore, not a good choice for structural applications. It planes easily and turns well with both hand and machine tools. Nailing and screwing properties are good, as well as gluing characteristics. Red gum is easily finished to a high polish and can be stained to look like a variety woods, including mahogany, rosewood and walnut. While red gum sands poorly, it planes well and stains well, and can be polished to a smooth, shiny finish.

Main Uses

Red gum is often used for figured veneer, moulding, flooring and wall paneling. It may also be used in cabinetmaking, as furniture components, and as doors.