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Home » Plant infomation

Liquidambar styraciflua  L.


Botanical Name


Liquidambar styraciflua L.

English Name


American sweetgum, Redgum, Sapgum, Starleaf-gum, Satin-walnut, Alligatorwood



Liquidambar barbata Stokes, Liquidambar gummifera Salisbury, Liquidambar macrophylla Oerst, Liquidambar styraciflua var. macrophylla (Oerst.) Niedenzu, Liquidambar styraciflua var. mexicana (Oerst.) Niedenzu





General Info


A deciduous tree, 60-75+ ft, (18-23 m), pyramidal to oblong crown (excurrent). Stems rounded to somewhat angled, often developing corky wings. Leaves alternate, simple, 10-18 cm wide, star-shaped (5-7 lobed), finely serrate lobes, deep glossy green above, paler below and without hairs (glabrous) except axillary tufts in major veins; petioles 6-12 cm long. Leaves held late, and trees from seedlings have variable fall color, yellow, purple, or red. Flower: Monoecious; female borne on a slender stalk, capped with a globose head, male flowers borne on an upright raceme; both are small, bright yellow-green (tinged with red) and not showy, appear in early to mid-spring. Fruit (capsules) aggragate to form a woody, mace-like cluster, about 3 cm across, green at first then brown when mature, persist into winter, surface openings release 1-2 winged seeds per capsule.

Herb Effects

Antiseptic, carminative, diuretic, expectorant, parasiticide, poultice, salve, sedative, stimulant, vulnerary (resin obtained from the trunk of the tree)


Plants For A Future
Flora of North America



Medicinal Use

A resin obtained from the trunk of the tree is 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 diarrhoea and childhood cholera.



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