A medium to large shade tree to 80 feet tall, with a straight trunk and a pyramidal crown. Taller than wide. Almost horizontal branches spread low on the trunk. Its glossy leaves turn purplish red in fall. Part of Witch-Hazel Family, also known as Red-Gum, Star-Leaf Gum, Bilsted and Alligator Wood. The hardened sap was once used as a chewing gum and for dysentery by Confederate Army doctors. Wood is used for furniture, crates, cabinets, interior finish, slack barrels and woodenware. Songbirds, chipmunks and squirrels eat the seeds. Mice and rabbits brouse the twigs.
Star shaped, 4-6” long & wide, with 5-7 pointed lobes. Fragrant when crushed.
Smooth, gray with vertical lines that develop into rough cracks. Later, gray-brown, intersecting ridges, broken horizontally at irregular intervals.
Shiny green to yellow-brown with corky outgrowths from rapid growth. Terminal bud is large and usually sticky. Covered with green to orange-brown scales, aromatic.
Spiny seed balls, made up of woody brown spherical clusters of capsules, 1-1 ½” with openings in the surface that release two seeds from each capsule. Matures in fall and remains on trees through winter.
Species is unisexual – male flowers in multiples on 3” spike, solitary females on 2” stalk. Both are yellow-green tinged with red, appearing in early spring.