Sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua

tree of the family Hamamélidaceae (Witch hazels, Liquidambar, Parrotia, Parrotiopsis).

Etymology: Spanish word, from Latin "Liquidus", liquid, and of Arab "Ambar", amber, by allusion to the odorous gum exuded.
Origin: North America, discovered in Florida by the Spanish in 1528, introduced to Europe in 1681.
Habitat : sunny, not calcareous.
Roots: tap.
Height: 30 m (unusually 45 m in America).
Varieties: there is a Sweetgum of China and an East (Turkey) Sweetgum described in 1610.
Dark grey cracked bark. Stems provided with thick ribs.


Deciduous leaves alternate (# maples: opposite leaves), with 5 - 9 deep lobes. In autumn, they turn to a nice crimson color.

Flowers : the male flowers are the most visible (glomerules fixed on an axis), in April.

Fruits : in bowls (formed by capsules welded at the base). They resemble those of the Plane tree.

Uses: in the East, a beauty milk was extracted from its balsam, for the ladies, in the XIXth century . The balm contains an essence, Styrax, perfume fixative with a taste of cinnamon. It was used to make the first chewing gum.


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