Definition of liquidambar in US English:



  • 1A deciduous North American and Asian tree with maple-like leaves and bright autumn colors, yielding aromatic resinous balsam.

    Genus Liquidambar, family Hamamelidaceae: several species, including L. orientalis of Asia, which yields liquid storax, and the sweet gum of North America

    • ‘Trees with a strong vertical growth habit - such as Italian cypress and liquidambar - or spiked plants such as agave will ‘channel fast-moving chi towards us, producing a knife-like effect in our direction.’’
    • ‘But the judicious placement of plants - a strawberry tree in the planter and several liquidambars screening a corner - makes the space surprisingly private.’
    • ‘For vivid autumn color, shop for trees such as birch, Chinese pistache, crape myrtle, ginkgo, Japanese maple, liquidambar, persimmon, and ‘Raywood’ ash.’
    • ‘In front of a small house in Clyde the leaves on a liquidambar are a bright orange.’
    • ‘Saplings do look small when you buy them from the garden centre, but avenue trees such as liquidambars, Pinus radiata, Magnolia grandiflora and the like develop into enormous specimens with extensive root systems.’
    1. 1.1 Liquid balsam obtained chiefly from the Asian liquidambar tree, used medicinally and in perfume.
      Also called storax


Late 16th century: modern Latin, apparently formed irregularly from Latin liquidus ‘liquid’ + medieval Latin ambar ‘amber’.