Liquidambar orientalis. ORIENTAL SWEET GUM. Turkey
There may not be many oriental sweet gums on campus, so
it will be interesting to watch the performance of the two specimens on the south
side of the Ginzton Laboratory. They appear to be in good condition and have flowered
and set fruit. The deciduous leaves are finely toothed, as with American sweet
gum, but there is a strong tendency for the lobes to possess minor lobes. A row
that was planted in 1957 on Santa Fe Avenue off Mayfield Avenue offered the opportunity
of comparison with three American sweet gums that inadvertently got mixed in,
probably from stock that was planted on nearby Esplanada Way. As an indication
of sensitivity to frost, all the Santa Fe specimens died in the freeze of December
1972. The inner bark yields a fragrant resin known to the Greeks in antiquity
as sturax and to us as storax. There are several trees that could have been the
source of storax in the olden days, but today it is prepared from liquidambars.
HAMAMELIDACEAE (Witch hazel family)
Leaf shape alone gives a clue to identity, but there is a time in March–April when all the Oriental sweet gums are in full leaf and the natives are quite bare. There is also a diff erence in fall color. At first glance it is possible to mistake a sweet gum for a maple especially if no seed balls are in evidence. However, one can tell from the leaves, which are alternate, have two tiny stipule scars at the base of the stalk, and have a small gland on each tooth.
Two specimens that grew on the south side of Ginzton Laboratory are now gone, victims of frost or perhaps construction of the Gravity Probe-B building. No other specimens are known on campus.
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