all you’ve ever wanted to know about …

the Liquidambar !

It has started turning red… and what a show ! It’s truly beautiful and mesmerizing.

Funnily, it was the topic of a gardening programme I listen to on Saturday mornings when I have to get up early to take my daughter to school. It is run by Baraton, the head gardener of the Versailles castle.

Here is what I remember : it was introduced in 1681 in Europe from America and is today widely spread. Its name comes from the Latin word liquidus and the Arabic word ambar for liquid amber. Its name is due to the sap it produces, which is used in the perfume industry.

The sap was used by embalmists in Egypt 3000BC .

In 1786 a British scientist had the idea to distill the sap and to extract oil from it, called styrax. The sap was brewed and used to stimulate respiratory tracts, but also as an anti diarrhoea treatment and a stress reliever !

In America, the Cherokee used the sap for chewing gum.

Did I know I had such a valuable tree, a tree with such history  in my garden ? They say it can reach 40m and live up to 300 years !

Well to say the truth, I have noticed the admirative look of gardeners and garden lovers who have come to my house, but I never bothered probing the reason why more than to the fantastic arays it puts on in autumn.

Talk about why we need plants : they carry medicinal properties which we don’t necessarily know about. It’s not only the rainforest or Madagascar that have the healing plants ! Encourage global biodiversity, and this could start right here, in your own garden.

Nov 6, 2011

3 comments to all you’ve ever wanted to know about …

  • Claire Kuntz

    This is a fascinating article and a great tree.
    It just shows we should all look closer at all the different plants/trees in our gardens and find out more about them.
    I am sure we all have a wealth of natural resources in our gardens !!

    More about the Liquid Ambar (or sweetgum tree as I call it here in the USA):

    “In Chinese herbal medicine, lu lu tong, or “all roads open,” is the hard, spiky fruit of native sweetgum species. It first appeared in the medical literature in Omissions from the Materia Medica, by Chen Cangqi, in 720 CE. Bitter in taste, aromatic, and neutral in temperature, lu lu tong promotes the movement of blood and Qi, water metabolism and urination, expels wind, and unblocks the channels. It is an ingredient in formulas for epigastric distention or abdominal pain, anemia, irregular or scanty menstruation, low back or knee pain and stiffness, edema with difficult urination, or nasal congestion”

  • Sandra

    I don’t know much about the medicinal properties but the Liquid Ambar is a beautiful looking tree and the one in your photo is a really nice example. Is the photo of the tree in your garden ?

  • Robert Karlsson

    The bark on the Liquid Ambar is one of the best things about this tree – I love carressing the trunk (come one, don’t look at me like that, we all need to hug a tree,…lol). Seriously great looking tree with leaves alot like a maple.

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