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Herbs & Plants

Liquidambar styraciflua

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

Common Names:American sweetgum or redgum

Habitat :Liquidambar styraciflua is native to warm temperate areas of eastern North America and tropical montane regions of Mexico and Central America.
Liquidambar styraciflua grows in moist to wet woods, tidal swamps, swampy bottomlands, streambanks, and in clearings and old fields or dry-mesic to mesic upland forests, mixed forest edges, rock outcrops. It grows best grows best on rich, moist, alluvial clay and loamy soils of river bottoms

Dscription:
Liquidambar styraciflua is a medium-sized to large tree, growing to 20–35 m (65-115 ft), rarely to 41 m (135 ft) tall, with a trunk up to 2 m (6 ft) in diameter. Trees may live to 400 years.
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The leaves usually have five (but sometimes three or seven) sharply pointed palmate lobes. They are 7–19 cm (rarely to 25 cm) long and broad, with a 6–10 cm petiole. The rich dark green, glossy leaves generally turn brilliant orange, red, and purple colors in the autumn.

This autumnal coloring has been characterized as not simply a flame, but a conflagration. Its reds and yellows compare to that of the maples (Acer), and in addition it has the dark purples and smoky browns of the ash (Fraxinus). However, in the northern part of its range, and where planted in yet colder areas, the leaves are often killed by frost while still green. On the other hand, in the extreme southern or tropical parts of its range, some trees are evergreen or semi-evergreen, with negligible fall color.

The male and female inflorescences are separate on the same tree.

The distinctive compound fruit is hard, dry, and globose, 2.5–4 cm in diameter, composed of numerous (40-60) capsules. Each capsule, containing one to two small seeds, has a pair of terminal spikes (for a total of 80-120 spikes). When the fruit opens and the seeds are released, each capsule is associated with a small hole (40-60 of these) in the compound fruit.

Another distinctive feature of the tree is the peculiar appearance of its small branches and twigs. The bark attaches itself to these in plates edgewise instead of laterally, and a piece of the leafless branch with the aid of a little imagination readily takes on a reptilian form; indeed, the tree is sometimes called Alligator-wood

The roots are fibrous; juices are balsamic.

The tree secretes an aromatic fluid, which when processed is called styrax

Additional characteristics of Liquidambar styraciflua include:

*Leaves: Alternate, three to five inches long, three to seven inches broad, lobed, so as to make a star-shaped leaf of five to seven divisions, these divisions acutely pointed, with glandular serrate teeth. The base is truncate or slightly heart-shaped. They come out of the bud plicate, downy, pale green, when full grown are bright green, smooth, shining above, paler beneath. In autumn they vary in color from yellow through crimson to purple. They contain tannin and when bruised give a resinous fragrance. Petioles long, slender, terete. Stipules lanceolate, acute, caducous.
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*Flowers: March to May, when leaves are half grown; monoecious, greenish. Staminate flowers in terminal racemes two to three inches long, covered with rusty hairs; the pistillate in a solitary head on a slender peduncle borne in the axil of an upper leaf. Staminate flowers destitute of calyx and corolla, but surrounded by hairy bracts. Stamens indefinite; filaments short; anthers introrse. Pistillate flowers with a two-celled, two-beaked ovary, the carpels produced into a long, recurved, persistent style. The ovaries all more or less cohere and harden in fruit. Ovules many but few mature.

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*Fruit: Multicapsular spherical head, an inch to an inch and a half in diameter, hangs on the branches during the winter. The woody capsules are mostly filled with abortive seeds resembling sawdust.

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*Bark: Light brown tinged with red, deeply fissured, ridges scaly. Branchlets pithy, many-angled, winged, at first covered with rusty hairs, finally becoming red brown, gray or dark brown.

*Winter buds: Yellow brown, one-fourth of an inch long, acute. The inner scales enlarge with the growing shoot, becoming half an inch long, green tipped with red.

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While the starry five-pointed leaves of Liquidambar resemble those of some maples (Acer), such as the Japanese maple (Acer palmatum), the sugar maple (Acer saccharum), and the Norway maple (Acer platanoides), Liquidambar is easily distinguished from Acer by its glossy, leathery leaves that are positioned singly (alternate), not in pairs (opposite) on the stems. The long-stemmed fruit balls of Liquidambar resemble those of the American sycamore or buttonwood (Platanus occidentalis), but are spiny and remain intact after their seeds are dispersed; the softer fruits of Platanus disintegrate upon seed dispersal.

Medicinal Uses:
In Appalachia, water- or whiskey-soaked twigs are chewed to clean the teeth, Native Americans used the resin to treat fevers and wounds.  The gum was used by early settlers to treat herpes and skin inflammations.  It has also been applied to the cheek to ease toothache.  The bark and leaves, boiled in milk or water, have been used to treat diarrhea and dysentery.  The boiled leaves have been applied to cuts and used for treating sore feet.  The aromatic drug resin storax, an expectorant and a weak antiseptic used for treating scabies, comes from 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, soap and as an adhesive. It is also chewed and used as a tooth cleaner and to sweeten the breath.  It is also chewed in the treatment of sore throats, coughs, asthma, cystitis, dysentery etc.  Externally, it is applied to sores, wounds, piles, ringworm, scabies etc.  The resin is an ingredient of ‘Friar’s Balsam’, a commercial preparation based on Styrax benzoin that is used to treat colds and skin problems. The mildly astringent inner bark is used in the treatment of diarrhea and childhood cholera.

Other Uses:
Liquidambar styraciflua is valued as a cultivated ornamental tree, and in its natural habitats, as a timber tree and for its dramatically colored fall foliage. The resin for which it was named also has various uses

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquidambar_styraciflua
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_RST.htm
http://www.duke.edu/~cwcook/trees/list.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Leaf_bud_of_American_Sweet_gum_(Liquidambar_styraciflua)_showing_imbricate_cataphylls_5405.jpg

Categories
Herbs & Plants

Cedrus Deodara

Photograph of the needles of the Deodar Cedar ...
Image via Wikipedia

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Botanical Name: Cedrus deodara
Family :Pinaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Genus: Cedrus
Species: C. deodara

Synonym(s): Cedrus libani Barrel, Pinus deodara Rxb.

Common Name: Deodar Cedar, Himalayan Cedar, or Deodar; Hindi, Sanskrit: devadaru; Chinese: xue song.

The specific epithet and English vernacular name derive from the Sanskrit devad?ru, “wood of the gods”, a compound of deva (god) and daru (wood).

Parts used: Heartwood, bark, leaves and oil.

Habitat: Native to the western Himalayas in eastern Afghanistan, northern Pakistan, north-central India (Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand states,Kashmir, southwesternmost Tibet and western Nepal, occurring at 1500-3200 m altitude.

Cultural importance in the Indian subcontinent:
It is worshipped as a divine tree in the Indian subcontinent, particularly in Kashmir and Punjab villages, as the name deodar, a Sanskrit word, (Sanskrit: devdar), which means, “divine wood”. The first half of the word deva means the words divine, deity, deus, and Zeus and the second part connotes durum, druid, tree, and true. Several Hindu legends refer to this tree.

Forests full of Devadaru trees were the favorite abode or living place of ancient Indian sages and their families who were devoted to Hindu god Shiva for whom they performed very difficult tapasya (meditation) to please him.
It is the national tree of Pakistan.

Description:
It is a large evergreen coniferous tree reaching 40-50 m tall, exceptionally 60 m, with a trunk up to 3 m diameter. It has a conic crown with level branches and drooping branchlets.Dioecious trees are very rare.

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The leaves are needle-like, mostly 2.5-5 cm long, occasionally up to 7 cm long, slender (1 mm thick), borne singly on long shoots, and in dense clusters of 20-30 on short shoots; they vary from bright green to glaucous blue-green in colour. The female cones are barrel-shaped, 7-13 cm long and 5-9 cm broad, and disintegrate when mature (in 12 months) to release the winged seeds. The male cones are 4-6 cm long, and shed their pollen in autumn.

Cultivation and uses
It is widely grown as an ornamental tree, much planted in parks and large gardens for its drooping foliage. General cultivation is limited to areas with mild winters, with trees frequently killed by temperatures below about ?25 °C, limiting it to hardiness zones 8 and warmer for reliable growth. It is commonly grown in western Europe (north to Scotland), in the Mediterranean region, around the Black Sea, in southern and central China, on the west coast of North America as far north as Vancouver, British Columbia, and in the southeastern United States from Texas to Virginia.The most cold-tolerant trees originate in the northwest of the species’ range in Kashmir and Paktia Province, Afghanistan. Selected cultivars from this region are hardy to zone 7 or even zone 6, tolerating temperatures down to about ?30 °C. Named cultivars from this region include ‘Eisregen’, ‘Eiswinter’, ‘Karl Fuchs‘, ‘Kashmir’, ‘Polar Winter’, and ‘Shalimar’. Of these, ‘Eisregen’, ‘Eiswinter’, ‘Karl Fuchs’, and ‘Polar Winter’ were selected in Germany from seed collected in Paktia; ‘Kashmir’ was a selection of the nursery trade, whereas ‘Shalimar’ originated from seeds collected in 1964 from Shalimar Gardens, India (in the Kashmir region) and propagated at the Arnold Arboretum.

Use in Construction material:
Deodar is in great demand as building material because of its durability, rot-resistant character and fine close grain, which is capable of taking high polish. It’s historical use to construct religious temples and as landscape around temples is well recorded. In India, during the British colonial period, deodar wood was used extensively for construction of barracks, public buildings, bridges, canals and railway cars.

Major chemical constituents
Essential oil
The heartwood yields about 2.1 % of essential oil, consisting mainly of the sesquiterpene hydrocarbons a-himachalene 6-7%, p-himachalene around 91 % and other isomers including o-himachalene,2 with p-methyl acetophenone, p-methyl 3-tetrahydroacetophenone, atlantone and himachalo.

Hydrocarbons
The petroleum ether extract of the bark oil yields saturated, straight chain and branched chain hydrocarbons (CI4-C2O)’

Flavonoids
Stem bark contains deodarin (3′,4′,5,7-tetrahydroxy-8-C-methyl dihydroflavonol), taxifolin and quercetin.

Medicinal Uses:
The curative properties of Deodar are well recorded in Indian Ayurvedic medicines, which are indicated below:-
Antidote; Astringent; Carminative; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Skin; TB.

The inner wood is aromatic and used to make incense. Inner wood is distilled into essential oil. As insects avoid this tree, the essential oil is used as insect repellant on the feet of horses, cattle and camels. It also has antifungal properties and has some potential for control of fungal deterioration of spices during storage. The outer bark and stem are astringent. Its Biomedical actions are reported to be Carminative, antispasmodic, creates sweating, urination and is aromatic. Deodar’s Ayurvedic actions are reported to be a) increasing digestive function, b) removal of toxins from the bowel, c) alleviating coughing, d) cures skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis. Cedar oil is often used for its aromatic properties, especially in aromatherapy and has characteristic woody odour which may change somewhat in the course of drying out. The crude oils are often yellowish or even darker in colour. Its applications cover soap perfumes, household sprays, floor polishes and insecticidesand also for microscope work as a clearing oil.

The heartwood is carminative, diaphoretic and diuretic. It is used in the treatment of fevers, flatulence, pulmonary and urinary disorders, rheumatism, piles, kidney stones, insomnia, diabetes etc. It has been used as an antidote to snake bites.

The plant yields a medicinal essential oil by distillation of the wood, it is used in the treatment of phthisis, bronchitis, blennorrhagia and skin eruptions.

The bark is astringent. It has proved useful in the treatment of fevers, diarrhoea and dysentery.

In Ayurvedic medicine the leaves are used in the treatment of tuberculosis.
Anticancer activity: The ethanolic extract was found to have cytotoxicity against human epidermal carcinoma of the nasopharynx in tissue culture.

Ayurvedic properties
Rasa: Tikta (bitter)
Guna: Laghu (light),
snigdha (unctuous)
Veerya: Ushna (hot)
Vipaka: Katu (pungent)
Dosha: Pacifies vata and kapha

Safety profile
A 15 % mixture of C. deodara oil in castor oil was subjected to acute toxicity tests in mice and found to be non-toxic. The formulation was non-irritant to the skin of rabbit and sheep and did not alter blood urea nitrogen and blood glucose levels. The LDso was 500 mgiii in adult albino mice. Applied topically to rabbits, it was found to have no adverse effects on skin or any other vital organ.

Dosage
Powdered wood: 3-6 g Decoction: 28-56 ml
Oil: 0.5-3 ml

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deodar
http://www.ibiblio.org/pfaf/cgi-bin/arr_html?Cedrus+deodara
http://www.divineremedies.com/cedrus_deodara.htm

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