Origin. Liquidambar styracifluum, L, a tree belonging to the family Hamamelidaceae, grows in the southern United States, in Mexico and Central America. The resinous balsam which is of honey-like consistence secretes from the sap-wood under the bark when incisions are made into the trunk and the branches. However, inasmuch as the balsam secretes freely only in hot climates, the drug enters commerce generally from Central America1). Upon distillation of this balsam Bonastre2) obtained 7 p.c. of oil.
Properties and Composition. According to W. von Miller8) the oil obtained from American storax is dextrogyrate (aD +16° 33'). It contains styrene (m. p. of dibromide 73°) and an oxygenated substance which has the odor of turpentine, is optically active and has not been characterized.
The leaves of the American storax tree have a peculiar, turpentine-like odor. Their distillation5) yielded 0,085 p.c. of oil. It is greenish yellow and limpid; d16o0,872; aD - 38°45'; S.V. 5,9; E. V. after acetylation 25,2. The odor of the oil resembles that of Abies alba. Apparently it contains borneol and bornyl acetate in addition to the terpenes.
1) Kalm, Reise nach dem nordlichen Nordamerika in den Jahren 1748 bis 1749. Gottingen 1754. Vol. 1, p. 294 and 566; Vol. 3, p. 131. - Schopf, Materia medica Americana. Erlangae 1787. Vol. 1, p. 170. - Schopf, Reise durch einige der mittleren und sudlichen Vereinigten Staaten. 1783 bis 1784. Erlangen 1787. Vol. 1, p. 415. - C. Mohr, Pharm. Rundsch. (New York) 13 (1895), 57.
2) Journ. de Pharm. II. 17 (1831), 338; Trommsdorffs Neues Journ. d. Pharm. 24, II. (1832), 236.
3) Arch, der Pharm. 220 (1882), 648.
4) Comp. also A. Tschirch and L. van Itallie, ibidem 239 (1901), 532.
5) Report of Schimmel & Co. April 1898, 53.