Tag Archives: Fraxinus

Sorbus aucuparia

Botanical Name : Sorbus aucuparia
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Sorbus
Subgenus:Sorbus
Section:Sorbus
Species:S. aucuparia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Synonyms : Pyrus aucuparia

Common Names: Mountain-ash, European mountain ash, Amur mountain-ash, Quick beam, Quickbeam, Rowan or Rowan-berry

Habitat :Sorbus aucuparia is native to Europe, including Britain, south and east from Iceland to Spain, Macedonia and the Caucasus. It grows in the woods, scrub and mountain rocks, mainly on lighter soil, rare or absent on clays or soft limestones. It is found at higher elevations than any other native tree.

Description:

Sorbus aucuparia occurs as a deciduous tree or shrub that grows up to between 5 and 15 m in height. The crown is loose and roundish or irregularly shaped but wide and the plant often grows multiple trunks. A trunk is slender and cylindrical and reaches up to 40 cm in diameter, and the branches stick out and are slanted upwards.The bark of a young S. aucuparia is yellowish gray and gleaming and becomes gray-black with lengthwise cracks in advanced age; it descales in small flakes. Lenticels in the bark are elongated and colored a bright ocher. The plant does not often grow older than 80 years and is one of the shortest-lived trees in temperate climate. Wood of S. aucuparia has a wide reddish white sapwood and a light brown to reddish brown heartwood. It is diffuse-porous, flexible, elastic, and tough, but not durable, with a density of 600 to 700 kg/m3 in a dried state. The roots of S. aucuparia grow wide and deep, and the plant is capable of root sprouting and can regenerate after coppicing.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

The compound leaves are pinnate with 4 to 9 pairs of leaflets on either side of a terete central vein and with a terminal leaflet. There are paired leaf-like stipules at the base of the petiole. The leaves are up to 20 cm long, 8 to 12 cm wide, and arranged in an alternate leaf pattern on a branch., distinguishing them from those of ash, Fraxinus excelsior, which are opposite and without stipules. The leaflets are elongated-lanceolate in shape, 2 to 6 cm long, and 1 to 2.5 cm wide with a sharply serrated edge, and have short stems or sit close to the central vein except for the outermost leaflet. Leaflets are covered in gray-silvery hairs after sprouting but become mostly bare after they unfold. Their uppers side is dark green and their underside is a grayish green and felted. Young leaflets smell like marzipan when brayed. The leaflets are asymmetrical at the bottom. S. aucuparia foliage grows in May and turns yellow in autumn or a dark red in dry locations.

Buds of S. aucuparia are often longer than 1 cm and have flossy to felted hairs. These hairs, which disappear over time, cover dark brown to black bud scales. The terminal buds are oval and pointed and larger than axillary buds, which are narrow, oval and pointed, close to the twig, and often curved towards it.

S. aucuparia is monoecious. It reaches maturity at age 10 and carries ample fruit almost every year. The plant flowers from May to June (on occasion again in September) in many yellowish white corymbs that contain about 250 flowers. The corymbs are large, upright, and bulging. The flowers are between 8 and 10 mm in diameter and have five small, yellowish green, and triangular sepals that are covered in hairs or bare. The five round or oval petals are yellowish white and the flower has up to 25 stamens fused with the corolla to form a hypanthium and an ovary with two to five styles; the style is fused with the receptacle. Flowers of S. aucuparia have an unpleasant trimethylamine smell. Their nectar is high in fructose and glucose.

Its fruit are round pomes between 8 and 10 mm in diameter that ripen from August to October. The fruit are green before they ripen and then typically turn from orange or scarlet in color. The sepals persist as a black, five-pointed star on the ripe fruit. A corymb carries 80 to 100 pomes. A pome contains a star-shaped ovary with two to five locules each containing one or two flat, narrow, and pointed reddish seeds. The flesh of the fruit contains carotenoids, citric acid, malic acid, parasorbic acid, pectin, provitamin A, sorbitol, tannin, and vitamin C. The seeds contain glycoside....CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Cultivation:
The plant succeeds in most reasonably good soils in an open sunny position. It grows well in heavy clay soils. Tolerates some shade, though it fruits better in a sunny position. Prefers a cool moist position and a lighter neutral to slightly acid soil. Dislikes shallow soils or drought. Succeeds on chalk or acid peats[98, 186]. A very wind firm tree tolerating very exposed and maritime positions. Tolerates atmospheric pollution. Some named varieties have been developed for their improved fruits which are larger and sweeter than the type. Plants, and especially young seedlings, are quite fast growing. The fruit is very attractive to birds. 28 species of insects are associated with this tree. Responds well to coppicing. Plants are susceptible to fireblight. Special Features:Not North American native, Attractive flowers or blooms.
Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. If you have sufficient seed it can be sown in an outdoor seedbed. Stored seed germinates better if given 2 weeks warm then 14 – 16 weeks cold stratification[98], so sow it as early in the year as possible. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Seedlings are very slow to put on top-growth for their first year or two, but they are busy building up a good root system. It is best to keep them in pots in a cold frame for their first winter and then plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring.

Edible Uses:
Fruit are eaten raw or cooked. The fruit is very acid and large quantities of the raw fruit can cause stomach upsets. It can be used to make delicious, if slightly acidulous, jams and preserves, the fruit can also be dried and used as a flour mixed with cereals. The fruit is about 7.5mm in diameter and is produced in quite large bunches making harvest easy. The leaves and flowers are used as a tea substitute. Young leaves are said to be a famine food but they contain a cyanogenic glycoside so you should be very hungry before even thinking of eating them. A coffee substitute. The report was referring to the fruit, it probably means the roasted seed.

Medicinal Uses:
The bark is astringent, it is used in the treatment of diarrhoea and as a vaginal injection for leucorrhoea etc. The fruit is antiscorbutic and astringent. It is normally used as a jam or an infusion to treat diarrhoea and haemorrhoids. An infusion can also be used as a gargle for sore throats and as a wash to treat haemorrhoids and excessive vaginal discharge. The seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides which, in reaction with water, produce the extremely toxic prussic acid. In small quantities this acts as a stimulant to the respiratory system but in larger doses can cause respiratory failure and death. It is therefore best to remove the seeds when using the fruit medicinally or as a food. Both the flowers and the fruit are aperient, mildly diuretic, laxative and emmenagogue. An infusion is used in the treatment of painful menstruation, constipation and kidney disorders.

Rowan berries are astringent and rather acidic. The juice has been used medicinally as a gargle for sore throats and laryngitis, and its astringency was useful in treating hemorrhoids and excessive vaginal discharge. The fruit contains vitamin C and was formerly employed in the prevention of scurvy. The fruit is antiscorbutic and astringent. It is normally used as a jam or an infusion to treat diarrhea and hemorrhoids. An infusion can also be used as a gargle for sore throats and as a wash to treat hemorrhoids and excessive vaginal discharge. The seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides which, in reaction with water, produce the extremely toxic prussic acid. In small quantities this acts as a stimulant to the respiratory system but in larger doses can cause respiratory failure and death. It is therefore best to remove the seeds when using the fruit medicinally or as a food. Both the flowers and the fruit are aperient, mildly diuretic, laxative and emmenagogue. An infusion is used in the treatment of painful menstruation, constipation and kidney disorders.

Other Uses:
Landscape Uses:Specimen.
An oil is obtained from the seed. A cosmetic face-mask is made from the fruits and is used to combat wrinkled skin. A black dye is obtained from the young branches. All parts of the plant contain tannin and can be used as a black dye. Trees are very wind resistant and can be used in shelterbelt plantings. Wood – hard, fine grained, compact and elastic. It is highly recommended by wood turners and is also used to make hoops for barrels, cogs and furniture.

Known Hazards : Large quantities of the raw fruit can cause vomiting, especially if people are not used to the fruit. Seeds probably contain hydrogen cyanide. this is the ingredient that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. Unless the seed is very bitter it should be perfectly safe in reasonable quantities. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.

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

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Sorbus+aucuparia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorbus_aucuparia
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_RST.htm

Fraxinus excelsior

Botanical Name: Fraxinus excelsior
Family: Oleaceae
Genus: Fraxinus
Species: F. excelsior
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Common Names: Ash, or European ash or Common ash

Habitat : Fraxinus excelsior is native to most of Europe from Portugal to Russia, with the exception of northern Scandinavia and southern Iberia. It is also considered native in southwestern Asia from northern Turkey east to the Caucasus and Alborz mountains. The northernmost location is in the Trondheimsfjord region of Norway. The species is widely cultivated and reportedly naturalized in New Zealand and in scattered locales in the United States and Canada (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Ontario, Ohio, Kentucky and British Columbia). It grows in forming woods on calcareous soils in the wetter parts of Britain, also in oakwoods, scrub, hedges etc. It is also often found on acid soils.

Description:
Fraxinus excelsior is a large deciduous tree growing to 20–35 m (66–115 ft) (exceptionally to 46 m or 151 ft) tall with a trunk up to 2 m (6.6 ft) (exceptionally to 3.5 m or 11 ft) diameter, with a tall, domed crown. The bark is smooth and pale grey on young trees, becoming thick and vertically fissured on old trees. The shoots are stout, greenish-grey, with jet black buds (which distinguish it from most other ash species, which have grey or brown buds). The leaves are 20–35 cm (7.9–13.8 in) long, pinnate compound, with 7-13 leaflets, the leaflets 3–12 cm (1.2–4.7 in) long and 0.8–3 cm (0.31–1.18 in) broad, sessile on the leaf rachis, and with a serrated margin. The leaves are often among the last to open in spring, and the first to fall in autumn if an early frost strikes; they have no marked autumn colour, often falling dull green. The flowers open before the leaves, the female flowers being somewhat longer than the male flowers; they are dark purple, and without petals, and are wind-pollinated. Both male and female flowers can occur on the same tree, but it is more common to find all male and all female trees; a tree that is all male one year can produce female flowers the next, and similarly a female tree can become male. The fruit is a samara 2.5–4.5 cm (0.98–1.77 in) long and 5–8 mm (0.20–0.31 in) broad, often hanging in bunches through the winter; they are often called ‘ash keys’. If the fruit is gathered and planted when it is still green and not fully ripe, it will germinate straight away, however once the fruit is brown and fully ripe, it will not germinate until 18 months after sowing (i.e. not until two winters have passed)

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES…

European Ash rarely exceeds 250 years of age. However, there are numerous specimens estimated between 200 and 250 years old and there are a few over 250. The largest is in Clapton Court, England and is 9 m (29.5 ft) in girth. There are several examples over 4.5 metres (14.8 ft) in Derbyshire alone.

Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Firewood, Pollard, Specimen. Prefers a deep loamy soil, even if it is on the heavy side. Most members of this genus are gross feeders and require a rich soil. Plants can succeed in very exposed positions, including maritime exposure, though they can become wind-shaped. Thrives in alkaline soils but not in shallow soils over chalk. Tolerates a pH as low as 4.5, but prefers a base-rich soil above 5.5. Trees are surprisingly tolerant of seasonally water-logged soils. Dislikes dryness at the roots, especially in late spring. Very intolerant of shade, young plants fail to develop properly in such a position and often die. Although the dormant plant is very cold-hardy, the young growth in spring, even on mature plants, is frost-tender and so it is best to grow the plants in a position sheltered from the early morning sun. A fast growing tree, it is sometimes cultivated for its valuable timber. Very tolerant of cutting, ash was also at one time frequently coppiced for its wood. However, modern use of plastics have reduced its economic values. There are many named varieties, selected for their ornamental value. Trees have a light canopy and cast little shade. A food plant for many insect species, there are 41 associated insect species. Trees can be male, female, monoecious or hermaphrodite, they can also change sex from year to year. Trees take 30 – 40 years to flower from seed. The flowers are produced on one-year old wood. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus. Special Features: Not North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Propagation:
The seed is best harvested green – as soon as it is fully developed but before it has fully dried on the tree – and can then be sown immediately in a cold frame. It usually germinates in the spring. Stored seed requires a period of cold stratification and is best sown as soon as possible in a cold frame. Approximately 5% of stored seed will germinate in the first year, the remainder germinating in the second year. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions or a nursery bed in late spring or early summer of the following year. If you have sufficient seed then it is possible to sow it directly into an outdoor seedbed, preferably in the autumn. Grow the seedlings on in the seedbed for 2 years before transplanting either to their permanent positions or to nursery beds. Cuttings of mature wood, placed in a sheltered outdoor bed in the winter, sometimes strike.
Edible Uses : Immature seed – usually pickled by steeping in salt and vinegar, and then used as a condiment for other foods. The leaves are sometimes used as an adulterant for tea. A manna is obtained from the tree. No further details are available. An edible oil similar to sunflower (Helianthus annuus) oil is obtained from the seed.
Medicinal Uses:

The leaves are astringent, cathartic, diaphoretic, mildly diuretic, laxative and purgative. The have been used as a laxative, making a mild substitute for senna pods. The leaves should be gathered in June, well dried and stored in airtight containers. The bark is antiperiodic, astringent and a bitter tonic. Little used in modern herbalism, it is occasionally taken in the treatment of fevers. The seeds, including their wings, have been used as a carminative. They will store for 12 months if gathered when ripe.

Taken regularly, the ash is said to prevent the recurrence of bouts of malaria and is a substitute for quinine. It is also said to be excellent for treatment of arthritic conditions. The seeds, including their wings, have been used as a carminative.
Other Uses:
Dye; Fuel; Oil; Shelterbelt; String; Tannin; Wood.

A green dye is obtained from the leaves. The bark is a source of tannin. A tying material can be obtained from the wood (does this mean the bark?). Very tolerant of extreme exposure and relatively fast growing, though often windshaped in exposed positions, it can be grown as a shelterbelt tree. However, it is late coming into leaf and also one of the first trees to lose its leaves in the autumn and this makes it less suitable in a shelter belt. Wood – hard, light, flexible, strong, resilient. A very valuable wood, it is much used for tool handles, oars, furniture, posts etc. An excellent fuel, burning well even when green. There is some doubt over how well the green wood burns with several people claiming that it needs to be properly seasoned.

Mythology:
In the 13th century Edda and other writing relating to Norse mythology, a mythological ash tree called Yggdrasil serves as the center of the world. Though traditionally Yggdrasill was often seen as a giant ash tree, many scholars[citation needed] do now agree that in the past an error has been made in the interpretation of the ancient writings, and that the tree is most likely an European yew (Taxus baccata). This mistake would find its origin in an alternative word for the yew tree in the Old Norse, namely Needle Ash (barraskr). In addition, ancient sources, including the Eddas, write about a vetgrønster vida which means “evergreen tree”. An ash sheds its leaves in the winter, while yew trees retain their needles.

It is recorded that on the Isle of Bute in Scotland lovers used to eat leaves of an ash tree known at the “Dreamin’ Tree” that grew near the church of St Blane and the pleasant dreams they then experienced revealed their actual spouses and intended fates.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fraxinus_excelsior
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Fraxinus+excelsior

Fraxinus ornus

Botanical Name : Fraxinus ornus
Family: Oleaceae
Genus: Fraxinus
Species: F. ornus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Synonym: Flake Manna.

Common Names:Manna, Manna ash or South European flowering ash

Habitat :Fraxinus ornus is  native to southern Europe and southwestern Asia, from Spain and Italy north to Austria, Poland and the Czech Republic, and east through the Balkans, Turkey, and western Syria to Lebanon and Armenia. It grows in mixed woodland, thickets and rocky places, mainly on limestone

Description:
Fraxinus ornus is a medium-sized deciduous tree growing to 15–25 m tall with a trunk up to 1 m diameter. The bark is dark grey, remaining smooth even on old trees.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
The buds are pale pinkish-brown to grey-brown, with a dense covering of short grey hairs.

The leaves are in opposite pairs, pinnate, 20–30 cm long, with 5-9 leaflets; the leaflets are broad ovoid, 5–10 cm long and 2–4 cm broad, with a finely serrated and wavy margin, and short but distinct petiolules 5–15 mm long; the autumn colour is variable, yellow to purplish.

The flowers are produced in dense panicles 10–20 cm long after the new leaves appear in late spring, each flower with four slender creamy white petals 5–6 mm long; they are pollinated by insects.

The fruit is a slender samara 1.5-2.5 cm long, the seed 2 mm broad and the wing 4–5 mm broad, green ripening brown.

Edible Uses:
Manna – a sweetish exudate is obtained from the stems by incision. The quality is better from the upper stems. A mild sweet taste[114], its main use is as a mild and gentle laxative, though it is also used as a sweetener in sugar-free preparations and as an anti-caking agent. The tree trunk must be at least 8cm in diameter before the manna can be harvested. A vertical series of oblique incisions are made in the trunk in the summer once the tree is no longer producing many new leaves. One cut is made every day from July to the end of September. A whitish glutinous liquid exudes from this cut, hardens and is then harvested. Dry and warm weather is essential if a good harvest is to be realised. The tree is harvested for 9 consecutive years, which exhausts the tree. This is then cut down, leaving one shoot to grow back. It takes 4 – 5 years for this shoot to become productive. Average yields of 6 kilos per hectare of top quality manna, plus 80 kilos of assorted manna are achieved.

Medicinal Uses:
Manna has a peculiar odour and a sweetish taste.

It was formerly used in medicine as a gentle laxative, but is now chiefly used as a children’s laxative or to disguise other medicines.

It is a nutritive and a gentle tonic, usually operating mildly, but in some cases produces flatulence and pain.

It is still largely consumed in South America and is official in the United States Pharmacopoeia.

It is generally given dissolved in water or some aromatic infusion, but the best Flake Manna may be administered in substance, in doses of a teaspoonful up to 1 or 2 oz.

Usually it is prescribed with other purgatives, particularly senna, rhubarb, magnesia and the neutral salts, the taste of which it conceals while it adds to the purgative effect.

For infants, a piece about the size of a hazel-nut is dissolved in a little warm water and added to the food. To children, 30 to 60 grams may be given dissolved in warm milk or a mixture prepared with syrup, or syrup of senna and dill water.

Syrups of Manna are prepared with or without other purgatives.

Manna is sometimes used as a pill excipient, especially for calomel.

Other Uses:
Fraxinus ornus is frequently grown as an ornamental tree in Europe north of its native range, grown for its decorative flowers (the species is also sometimes called “Flowering Ash”). Some cultivated specimens are grafted on rootstocks of Fraxinus excelsior, with an often very conspicuous change in the bark at the graft line to the fissured bark of the rootstock species.

Known Hazards  : Contact with the sap has caused skin or systemic allergic reactions in some people.

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.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/ashmn075.html
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/ashmn075.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Fraxinus+Ornus

Chionanthus virginica

Botanical Name :Chionanthus virginica
Family: Oleaceae
Genus:     Chionanthus
Species: C. virginicus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Lamiales

Synonyms:  Old Man’s Beard. Fringe Tree Bark. Chionathus. Snowdrop Tree. Poison Ash.

Common Name:  Grancy Gray Beard, ,Fringe Tree, White fringetree, Old Man’s Beard, Fringe Tree.

Habitat: Chionanthus virginica is a tree native to the eastern United States, from New Jersey south to Florida, and west to Oklahoma and Texas.
It grows on rich moist soils by the edges of streams and in damp woods and scrub.

Description:
Chionanthus virginica is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to as much as 10 to 11 metres (33 to 36 ft) tall, though ordinarily less. The bark is scaly, brown tinged with red. The shoots are light green, downy at first, later becoming light brown or orange. The buds are light brown, ovate, acute, 3 millimetres (0.12 in) long. The leaves are opposite, simple, ovate or oblong, 7.5 to 20 centimetres (3.0 to 7.9 in) long and 2.5 to 10 centimetres (0.98 to 3.94 in) broad, with a petiole 2 centimetres (0.79 in) long, and an entire margin; they are hairless above, and finely downy below, particularly along the veins, and turn yellow in fall. The richly-scented[4] flowers have a pure white, deeply four-lobed corolla, the lobes thread-like, 1.5 to 2.5 centimetres (0.59 to 0.98 in) long and 3 millimetres (0.12 in) broad; they are produced in drooping axillary panicles 10 to 25 centimetres (3.9 to 9.8 in) long when the leaves are half grown, in mid- to late May in New York City, earlier in the south.
click to see the pictures

It is usually dioecious, though occasional plants bear flowers of both sexes. The fruit is an ovoid dark blue to purple drupe 1.5 to 2 centimetres (0.59 to 0.79 in) long, containing a single seed (rarely two or three), mature in late summer to mid fall.

Cultivation:
Although native in the southeastern United States, it is hardy in the north and is extensively planted in gardens, where specimens are often grown with multiple trunks. The white flowers are best seen from below. Fall color is a fine, clear yellow, a good contrast with viburnums and evergreens. It prefers a moist soil and a sheltered situation. It may be propagated by grafting on Ash (Fraxinus sp.).

Medicinal Uses:

Part Used:  The dried bark of the root.

Constituents: It is said that both saponin and a glucoside have been found, but neither appears to have been officially confirmed.

Aperient, diuretic. Some authorities regard it as tonic and slightly narcotic. It is used in typhoid, intermittent, or bilious fevers, and externally, as a poultice, for inflammations or wounds. Is useful in liver complaints.

The bark and dried roots have been used in poultices for skin inflammations.  Fringetree bark may be safely used in all liver problems, especially when they have developed into jaundice. Good for the treatment of gall-bladder inflammation and a valuable part of treating gall-stones. It is a remedy that will aid the liver in general and as such it is often used as part of a wider treatment for the whole body. It is also useful as a gentle and effective laxative.  The root bark also appears to strengthen function in the pancreas and spleen.  Anecdotal evidence indicates that it may substantially reduce sugar levels in the urine.  Fringe tree also stimulates the appetite and digestion, and is an excellent remedy for chronic illness, especially where the liver has been affected.  For external use, the crushed bark may be made into a poultice for treating sores and wounds.

Traditional uses:
The dried roots and bark were used by Native Americans to treat skin inflammations. The crushed bark was used in treatment of sores and wounds

Other Uses:
The wood is light brown, sapwood paler brown; heavy, hard, and close-grained.

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.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/f/fringe32.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chionanthus_virginicus

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_FGH.htm

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Chionanthus+virginicus

Enhanced by Zemanta

Liquidambar styraciflua

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.
click to see the picture..>…...(01)..(1)…..(2)..…...(3).…...
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.
click to see the picture
*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.

click to see

*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.

click to see

*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.

click to see
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