The American Sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua, is a medium-sized deciduous tree recognisable by its palmate, five-pointed leaves and spiked autumn fruits. The cultivar ‘Worplesdon’ has more deeply-cut leaves than standard trees, with dramatic autumn colouring; a good example is well-established by the Lake.
It has formed a tear-drop shape and the foliage floods deep wine-red in early autumn, against which burst cerise, red, orange and apricot tones through the following weeks. The tree is a mesmerising sight at the height of its autumn colour, ingeniously placed at intersecting sight lines and throwing a spectacular reflection into the millpond surface of the Lake. For a few weeks of the year, the Sweetgum becomes the fiery fulcrum about which the Garden seems to revolve.
Dr Tim Upson recommends taking a step back to admire the treescape from the Systematic Beds - listen to why via the link right.