October 12, 2008

Liquidambar orientalis

Styrax officinale
has been proved to be the source of the solid Storax of the Ancients, which was always scarce and valuable, and is probable that the cultivated S. officinale of Europe is capable of yielding Storax. Storax appears to be a pathological rather than a physiological product; when the young wood is injured, oil-ducts are formed in which the Storax is produced. Its extraction is chiefly carried on by a tribe of wandering Turcomans called Yuruks. The outer bark of the tree is removed, the inner bark is stripped off and thrown into pits until a sufficient quantity has been collected. It is then packed in strong, horse-hair bags and pressed in a wooden press. After removal, hot water is thrown on the bags, which are pressed a second time, when the greater part of the balsam will be extracted. Another account says that the bark is first boiled in water in a large copper over a brick fire, by which process the balsam is separated, and can then be skimmed off. The boiled bark is then put into bags over which hot water is thrown, and submitted to pressure as described above, by which an additional quantity of balsam (Yagh, or oil) is obtained. In either mode of procedure the product is the semi-liquid, opaque substance called Liquid Storax. This is chiefly forwarded in barrels to Constantinople, Smyrna, Syria and Alexandria; some to Smyrna, in goat-skins, with a certain proportion of water; thence it is forwarded to Trieste in barrels. Much goes to Bombay for India and China, but little comes to the United States or Britain. Liquid Storax is known in the East as Rosemalloes or Rosemalles. The residual bark left after the extraction of the balsam constitutes the fragrant, leaf-like cakes known as Cortex Thymiamatis, Cortex Thuris and Storax Bark.

Storax Bark and Resins