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Genus of the Week

Week of September 21-27

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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

Subclass: Dicotyledoneae
Superorder: Hamamelidae
Order: Hamamelidales
Family: Hamamelidaceae
Subfamily: Liquidambaroideae
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:


  1. Grieve, M. (C. F. Leyel, ed.). A Modern Herbal. London, Tiger Books International: 1973.
  2. Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.
  3. 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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