Genus of the Week
Week of September 21-27
This page has been created for people who want to learn more about plants, especially in the
context of their taxonomy (Latin names, etc.). This is by no means an exhaustive list of
all available Web resources for a particular genus.
If you like this page, you should also visit the Land of the Glandular Trichomes
, a microscopic look at plants in the Lamiaceae family.
This week's genus:
Liquidambar - The Sweetgums
Number of Species: At least 5
Root: Named for the balsam (aromatic and resinous gum) that exudes from the bark of trees
in this genus.
Trees of the species Liquidambar orientalis (Oriental Sweetgum) were originally valued for
their production of Storax, which oozes from the bark in response to injury. The Yuruks, a
tribe of Turkish nomads, were experts at extracting this substance. The balsams of this genus
have been used in perfumery, and also in herbal remedies, as a cough suppressant and a treatment
for dysentery. More recently, L. styraciflua (American Sweet Gum) has become an important
tree in the timber industry, and is used to make furniture and boxes.
Here are a few links to images and descriptions of different Liquidambar species:
- The Vascular Image Plant Gallery at Texas A&M University has
eight different photos of L. stryaciflua, from branches and leaves to up-close images
of the flowers and fruit.
- Click here to see
an engraving of L. orientalis from "Materia Medica and Pharmacognosy" by David Culbreth,
M.D. (1927), provided by the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine.
- The Brooklyn Botanic Garden has a
Bibliography of references to Liquidambar in the section of its web site devoted to
- Learn more about the
chemical composition of Storax (also known as Styrax) from the Contact Dermatitis Home Page,
a site created by A.P. Truett III, M.D. at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
- Stop by Windsor Plywood's web site to learn more about the
properties of wood produced by Liquidambar species.
- The University of Kentucky has a site called "Tree Web" which describes the life histories
and uses for various trees. See what they had to say about
- The Michigan State University Extension School has information about the various
insect pests that plague this
genus and how to get rid of them.
- Grieve, M. (C. F. Leyel, ed.). A Modern Herbal. London, Tiger Books International: 1973.
- Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.
- Little, Elbert L., ed. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American
Trees, Eastern Region. New York, Alfred A. Knopf: 1980.
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