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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

Liquidamber orientalis

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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:

Click to access 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