The genetic diversity and evolutionary divergence in Liquidambar species and Liquidambar orientalis varieties were compared with respect to the matK gene. A total of 66 genotypes from 18 different populations were sampled in southwestern Turkey. The matK region, which is about 1,512 bp in length, was sequenced and studied. L. orientalis, L. styraciflua, and L. formosana had similar magnitude of nucleotide diversity, while L. styraciflua and L. acalycina possessed higher evolutionary divergence. The highest evolutionary divergence was found between L. styraciflua and eastern Asian Liquidambar species (0.0102). However, the evolutionary divergence between L. orientalis and other species was of a similar magnitude. The maximum-parsimony phylogenetic tree showed that L. styraciflua and L. orientalis formed a closer clade while East Asian species were in a separate clade. This suggests that the North Atlantic Land Bridge through southern Greenland may have facilitated continuous distribution of Liquidambar species from southeastern Europe to eastern North America in early Tertiary period. The maximum-parsimony tree with only 18 Oriental sweetgum populations indicated that there were two main clusters: one with mainly L. orientalis var. integriloba and the other with var. orientalis and undetermined populations. High nucleotide diversity (0.0028) and divergence (0.00072) were found in L. orientalis var. integriloba populations and Mugla-1 geographical region. This region could be considered as the major refugium and genetic diversity center for the species. The low genetic diversity and divergence at intraspecies level suggest that L. orientalis populations in Turkey share an ancestral polymorphism from which two varieties may have evolved.