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Liquidambar orientalis

Liquidambar orientalis

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Liquidambar orientalis, commonly known as oriental sweetgum or Turkish sweetgum, is a deciduous
Deciduous means "falling off at maturity" or "tending to fall off", and is typically used in reference to trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally, and to the shedding of other plant structures such as petals after flowering or fruit when ripe...

A tree is a perennial woody plant. It is most often defined as a woody plant that has many secondary branches supported clear of the ground on a single main stem or trunk with clear apical dominance. A minimum height specification at maturity is cited by some authors, varying from 3 m to...

 in the genus Liquidambar, native to the eastern Mediterranean region, that occurs as pure stands mainly in the flood plains of southwestern Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 and on the Greek island of Rhodes
Rhodes is an island in Greece, located in the eastern Aegean Sea. It is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in terms of both land area and population, with a population of 117,007, and also the island group's historical capital. Administratively the island forms a separate municipality within...



The forests of this Tertiary
The Tertiary is a deprecated term for a geologic period 65 million to 2.6 million years ago. The Tertiary covered the time span between the superseded Secondary period and the Quaternary...

A relict is a surviving remnant of a natural phenomenon.* In biology a relict is an organism that at an earlier time was abundant in a large area but now occurs at only one or a few small areas....

 endemic taxon
|thumb|270px|[[African elephants]] form a widely-accepted taxon, the [[genus]] LoxodontaA taxon is a group of organisms, which a taxonomist adjudges to be a unit. Usually a taxon is given a name and a rank, although neither is a requirement...

 are found notably within a specially protected area between Dalyan
Dalyan is a town in Muğla Province located between the well-known districts of Marmaris and Fethiye on the south-west coast of Turkey. The town is an independent municipality, within the administrative district of Ortaca....

 and Köyceğiz
Köyceğiz is a town and district of Muğla Province in the Aegean region of Turkey.The town of Köyceğiz lies at the northern end of a lake of the same name which is joined to the Mediterranean Sea by a natural channel called Dalyan. Its unique environment is being preserved as a nature and wildlife...

 in Muğla Province
Mugla Province
Muğla Province is a province of Turkey, at the country's south-western corner, on the Aegean Sea. Its seat is Muğla, about inland, while some of Turkey's largest holiday resorts, such as Bodrum, Ölüdeniz, Marmaris and Fethiye, are on the coast in Muğla....

, where a 286 hectares zone is set aside as a nature reserve
Nature reserve
A nature reserve is a protected area of importance for wildlife, flora, fauna or features of geological or other special interest, which is reserved and managed for conservation and to provide special opportunities for study or research...

 and arboretum
An arboretum in a narrow sense is a collection of trees only. Related collections include a fruticetum , and a viticetum, a collection of vines. More commonly, today, an arboretum is a botanical garden containing living collections of woody plants intended at least partly for scientific study...

 for the preservation of the species. A large stand also surrounds Marmaris
Marmaris is a port city and a tourist resort on the Mediterranean coast, located in southwest Turkey, in Muğla Province.Marmaris' main source of income is tourism. Little is left of the sleepy fishing village that Marmaris was just a few decades ago after a construction boom in the 1980s...

. These two areas are the better known oriental sweetgum forests due to their respective regions also being prominent centers of tourism
Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".Tourism has become a...

, although a big population covering nearly 100 hectares is also found in an inland region within Aydın Province
Aydin Province
Aydın Province is a province of southwestern Turkey, located in the Aegean Region. The provincial capital is the city of Aydın which has a population of approx. 150,000 . Other towns in the province include the summer seaside resorts of Didim and Kuşadası.-History:Aydın was founded by the ancient...

 extending between Çine
Çine is a town and a district of Aydın Province, in the Aegean region of Turkey, from the city of Aydın, on the road to Muğla.- Geography :Formerly known as Kıroba, Çine is an attractive rural district in the southern part of the valley of the Büyük Menderes River, on the southern flank of Madran...

, Köşk
Köşk is a town in Aydın district, Aegean Region, Turkey. Köşk is a noun in Turkish and refers to an ornate wooden mansion, smaller than a palace.- External links :* * *...

 and Umurlu
Umurlu is a town in the central district of Aydın Province, Turkey. At it is east of Aydın. The population of the town is 11374 as of 2010....

 districts. Yet another sweetgum forest area (88.5 hectares) under protection is situated in Burdur
Burdur , is a city southwestern Turkey and the seat of the Burdur Province of Turkey. It is located at , on the shore of Lake Burdur...

's depending district of Bucak
Bucak, Burdur
Bucak is the biggest town of Burdur, Turkey. The town’s population is 35,621 at the 2007 census. Its former name was “Oğuzhan” and this name was changed as “Bucak” on 30 May 1926. It is claimed that the Oğuzhan name came from the Oghuz Turks who came to this town initially.Bucak has good...

 alongside Karacaören dam reservoir on the road to Antalya
Antalya is a city on the Mediterranean coast of southwestern Turkey. With a population 1,001,318 as of 2010. It is the eighth most populous city in Turkey and country's biggest international sea resort.- History :...

. The trees are also found locally in Denizli
Denizli is a growing industrial city in the Southwestern part of Turkey and the eastern end of the alluvial valley formed by the river Büyük Menderes, where the plain reaches an elevation of about a hundred meters. Denizli is located in southwestern Turkey, in the country's Aegean Region.The city...

's depending districts of Beyağaç
Beyağaç is a town and district of Denizli Province in the Aegean region of Turkey. Beyağaç district area neighbors those of three other districts of Denizli Province from the north-west to the south-east, namely Kale, Tavas and Acıpayam and the central district and Köyceğiz district of Muğla...

 and Tavas
Tavas is a town and a district of Denizli Province of Turkey, on a wide plain on the road to Muğla, near to the district of Kale...

. The total area of pure sweetgum forests in Turkey covers 1,348 hectares, all in the southwestern regions of the country. The present-day extension corresponds to a marked decrease since the 1940s level of 6000-7000 hectares, although the protective measures and infrastructure in place since the 1980s helped stop loss of stands and led to slight improvements.


The name in Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

 for the particular species is Günlük ağacı, while the trees of the genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 as a whole are called Sığala ağacı, a name also used in sole reference to oriental sweeetgum itself. Günlük ağacı means “a frankincense/myrrh tree [ağaç]” in which the first element is of unknown origin, whereas sığala refers to “a boggy place”.

Production and medicinal uses

The extraction of its sap
Sap may refer to:* Plant sap, the fluid transported in xylem cells or phloem sieve tube elements of a plant* Sap , a village in the Dunajská Streda District of Slovakia...

 and the production of an oil based thereof (sığala yağı), 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
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, this oil is known under several names, shortly as Storax
Storax is also a name for trees in the genus StyraxStorax is the resinous exudate of the tree Liquidambar orientalis , occasionally used in incense or as an aromatic fixative in perfumery....

 to englobe all sweetgum oils, or as Styrax
Storax is also a name for trees in the genus StyraxStorax is the resinous exudate of the tree Liquidambar orientalis , occasionally used in incense or as an aromatic fixative in perfumery....

The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

, Asiatic Storax
Storax is also a name for trees in the genus StyraxStorax is the resinous exudate of the tree Liquidambar orientalis , occasionally used in incense or as an aromatic fixative in perfumery....

, Balsam Storax, Liquid Storax, Oriental Sweetgum Oil, or Turkish Sweetgum Oil. Diluted with a suitable carrier oil
Carrier oil
Carrier oil, also known as base oil or vegetable oil, is used to dilute essential oils and absolutes before they are applied to the skin in massage and aromatherapy. They are so named because they carry the essential oil onto the skin. Carrier oils do not contain a concentrated aroma, unlike...

, it is used externally in traditional medicine for abrasions, anxiety
Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. The root meaning of the word anxiety is 'to vex or trouble'; in either presence or absence of psychological stress, anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness,...

, bronchitis
Acute bronchitis is an inflammation of the large bronchi in the lungs that is usually caused by viruses or bacteria and may last several days or weeks. Characteristic symptoms include cough, sputum production, and shortness of breath and wheezing related to the obstruction of the inflamed airways...

, catarrh
Catarrh is a disorder of inflammation of the mucous membranes in one of the airways or cavities of the body. It can result in a thick exudate of mucus and white blood cells caused by the swelling of the mucous membranes in the head in response to an infection...

, coughs, cuts, ringworm, scabies
Scabies , known colloquially as the seven-year itch, is a contagious skin infection that occurs among humans and other animals. It is caused by a tiny and usually not directly visible parasite, the mite Sarcoptes scabiei, which burrows under the host's skin, causing intense allergic itching...

, stress-related conditions and wounds. It is a different product than the benzoin resin
Benzoin resin
Benzoin resin or styrax resin is a balsamic resin obtained from the bark of several species of trees in the genus Styrax. It is used in perfumes, some kinds of incense, as a flavoring, and medicine . Its principal component is benzoic acid...

 produced from tropical trees in the genus Styrax
Styrax is a genus of about 130 species of large shrubs or small trees in the family Styracaceae, mostly native to warm temperate to tropical regions of the Northern Hemisphere, with the majority in eastern and southeastern Asia, but also crossing the equator in South America...


The hydrocarbon
In organic chemistry, a hydrocarbon is an organic compound consisting entirely of hydrogen and carbon. Hydrocarbons from which one hydrogen atom has been removed are functional groups, called hydrocarbyls....

 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
Polystyrene ) also known as Thermocole, abbreviated following ISO Standard PS, is an aromatic polymer made from the monomer styrene, a liquid hydrocarbon that is manufactured from petroleum by the chemical industry...

A plastic material is any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic solids used in the manufacture of industrial products. Plastics are typically polymers of high molecular mass, and may contain other substances to improve performance and/or reduce production costs...

s, including Styrofoam
Styrofoam is a trademark of The Dow Chemical Company for closed-cell currently made for thermal insulation and craft applications. In 1941, researchers in Dow's Chemical Physics Lab found a way to make foamed polystyrene...



The status of and developments regarding the protection of Turkish Sweetgum continues to occupy local and national environmental agenda at a critical level in Turkey. Among the main causes for the loss of sweetgum forests was the cutting and felling of trees for opening new fields for agriculture, as well as the construction of three separate dams at localities which precisely corresponded to important habitats for the species. As such, Liquidambar orientalis holds an important position in Turkey's biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

and among endemic species, is one of its best-known symbols.