Liquidamber orientalis

Botanical Name : Liquidamber orientalis
Family: Altingiaceae
Genus: Liquidambar
Species: L. orientalis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Saxifragales

Synonyms :Liquidamber imberbe

Common Names : Storax ,Oriental sweetgum or Turkish sweetgum,

Habitat :  Liquidamber orientalis is  native to the eastern Mediterranean region, that occurs as pure stands mainly in the flood plains of southwestern Turkey and on the Greek island of Rhodes.

Description:
Liquidambar orientalis is a deciduous tree,30-35 m in height with straight trunk of 100 cm in dia.Flowers areunisxual and bloom from March – April. The fruits ripen during Nov-Dec and the seeds are wind spreaded.It produces seeds annually but abadent seeds crops occur every three yrs.

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The tree can grow in slopes and dry soil, and optimum growth is on rich, deep and moist soils such as bogs, river banks and coastal areas.

Cultivation:
Prefers a moist but not swampy loam in a sheltered position. Prefers a neutral to acid soil. Grows poorly on shallow soils overlying chalk. Plants can be grown in full sun so long as the soil is not dry hungry and shallow. Young plants are susceptible to damage from late frosts. Mature plants are fully hardy but prefer a hotter climate if they are to do well. Plants rarely, if ever, flower in Britain. They rarely flower in climatic zones colder than zone 7. An aromatic gum exudes from the trunk. The fragrance is also present to some extent in the leaves, especially if they are bruised. This species resents root disturbance, young plants should be pot-grown and be placed in their permanent positions as soon as possible. A slow growing plant.

Propagation :
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame. Harvest the seed capsules at the end of October or November, dry in a warm place and extract the seed by shaking the capsule. Stored seed requires 1 – 3 months stratification and sometimes takes 2 years to germinate. Sow it as early in the year as possible. Germination rates are often poor. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame or greenhouse for their first winter. Since they resent root disturbance, it is best to plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer of their second year and give them some protection from cold for their first winter outdoors. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Suckers in early spring. Layering in October/November. Takes 12 months

Edible Uses: A chewing gum and a stabilizer for cakes etc are obtained from the resin. This resin is also used to flavour baked foods etc.

Medicinal  Uses:
Storax balsam has an irritant expectorant effect on the respiratory tract and it is an ingredient of Friar’s Balsam, an expectorant mixture that is inhaled to stimulate a productive cough.  Levant storax, in the form of balsam, is also applied externally to encourage the healing of skin diseases and problems such as scabies, wounds and ulcers.  Mixed with witch hazel and rosewater, it makes an astringent face lotion.  In China, storax balsam is used to clear mucus congestion and to relieve pain and constriction in the chest.  The resin has been used to loosen a cough, treat diphtheria and gonorrhea, flavor tobacco, candy and chewing gum and as an ingredient of perfumes.  It is also a powerful stimulant of peculiar value for its aphrodisiac qualities.

The extraction of its sap and the production of an oil based thereof , as well as exports of these products, play an important role in the local economy. The recolt of the sap and the preparation of the oil involve quite toilsome tasks lasting from May to November and consisting of several separate phases. There is a danger for the present generation of master oil makers not being replaced in near future.

In English, this oil is known under several names, shortly as Storax to englobe all sweetgum oils, or as Styrax Levant, Asiatic Storax, Balsam Storax, Liquid Storax, Oriental Sweetgum Oil, or Turkish Sweetgum Oil. Diluted with a suitable carrier oil, it is used externally in traditional medicine for abrasions, anxiety, bronchitis, catarrh, coughs, cuts, ringworm, scabies, stress-related conditions and wounds. It is a different product than the benzoin resin produced from tropical trees in the genus Styrax.

Other Uses:
The aromatic resin ‘Storax’ is obtained from the trunk of this tree. It forms in cavities of the bark and also exudes naturally. It is harvested in autumn. Production can be stimulated by beating the trunk in the spring. The resin has a wide range of uses including medicinal, incense, perfumery, soaps etc. It is also used as a parasiticide. Liquid storax gives greater permanence to the odours of flowers extracted by maceration. It is also used in the imitation of other scents as an alternative to vanilla, ambergris and benzoin, or to complement them. The aromatic bark is burnt as an incense

The hydrocarbon styrene is named for Levant styrax from this species (Liquidambar orientalis), from which it was first isolated, and not for the genus Styrax itself; industrially produced styrene is now used to produce polystyrene plastics, including Styrofoam.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.euforgen.org/fileadmin/bioversity/publications/pdfs/923.pdf
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquidambar_orientalis
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_RST.htm

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Liquidambar+orientalis

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