Liquidambar orientalis

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Oriental Sweetgum
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19th century illustration of Oriental Sweetgum
19th century illustration of Oriental Sweetgum
Plant Info
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Scientific classification
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Kingdom: Plantae
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Division: Magnoliophyta
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Class: Magnoliopsida
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Order: Saxifragales
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Family: Altingiaceae
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Genus: Liquidambar
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Species: L. orientalis
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Binomial name
Liquidambar orientalis
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Type Species
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Oriental Sweetgum (Liquidambar orientalis, also known as Turkish Sweetgum [1] ) is a deciduous tree in the genus Liquidambar that occurs as pure stands mainly in the flood plains of southwestern Turkey.

The forests of this Tertiary relict endemic taxon are found notably within a specially protected area between Dalyan and Köyceğiz in Muğla Province, where a 286 hectares zone is set aside as a nature reserve and arboretum for the preservation of the species. A large stand also surrounds Marmaris. These two areas are the better known oriental sweetgum forests due to their respective regions also being prominent centers of tourism, although a big population covering nearly 100 hectares is also found in an inland region within Aydın Province extending between Çine, Köşk and Umurlu districts. Yet another sweetgum forest area (88.5 hectares) under protection is situated in Burdur's depending district of Bucak alongside Karacaören dam reservoir on the road to Antalya [2]. The trees are also found locally in Denizli's depending districts of Beyağaç and Tavas. [3] 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 cortresponds 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 for the particular species is Günlük ağacı, while the trees of the genus as a whole are called Sığla ağacı, a name also used in sole reference to oriental sweeetgum itself. The extraction of its sap and the production of an oil based thereof (sığla 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. [4]

In English, this oil is known under several names, shortly as Storax to englobe all sweetgum oils, or as Styrax Levant, Asiatic Storax, Balsam Storax, Liquid Storax, Oriental Sweetgum Oil or Turkish Sweetgum Oil. Diluted with a suitable carrier oil, it is used externally for abrasions, anxiety, bronchitis, catarrh, coughs, cuts, ringworm, scabies, stress-related conditions and wounds. [5]

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


  • (full text) Melis Or - Zeki Kaya (2007) (in English). Identification of Turkish Sweetgum (Liquidambar Orientalis) varieties by studying ten regions of Chloroplast DNA, p.166 In Proceedings of the IUFRO Division 2 Joint Conference: Low Input Breeding and Conservation of Forest Genetic Resources. Akdeniz University. 
  • (full text) A. Çelik (Pamukkale University), A. Güvensen, Ö. Seçmen, M. Öztürk (Ege University) (1997) (in English). Studies on the Ecology of Liquidambar Orientalis Mill. distributed on Aydın Mountains p. 165. Food and Agriculture Organization. 
  • (full text) Yahya Ayaşlıgil, Adnan Uzun (İstanbul University) (1997) (in English). The Yunus Emre Arboretum as a conservation tool for a relict Liquidambar Orientalis wood in the specially protected area of Dalyan - Köyceğiz (S.W. Turkey) p. 165. Food and Agriculture Organization. 


  1. Todd Lasseigne. "Friends of the Arboretum Newsletter Fall 2000-Winter 2001 Horticulture" (in English). North Carolina State University JC Raulston Arboretum.
  2. "Kargı Sweetgum Forest Bucak Kargı village Protected Natural Area map and information" (in Turkish). Burdur General Directorate of Environment and Forestry.
  3. Rasim Çetiner. "Beyağaç Flora of Beyağaç and its surrounding region" (in Turkish-Latin). Karadeniz Technical University.
  4. "Atlas magazine April 2006 edition Son Amber (The last amber)" (in Turkish). Atlas (magazine).
  5. "Styrax - Levant Guide to Essential Oils" (in English).
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