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Published In: Species Plantarum 1: 444. 1753. (1 May 1753) (Sp. Pl.) Name publication detailView in BotanicusView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 9/22/2017)
Acceptance : Accepted

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2. Styrax L. (styrax, storax)

Plants shrubs (small trees elsewhere). Bark gray, roughened. Twigs green to gray or reddish brown, with lighter lenticels, shiny, pubescent with small stellate hairs when very young, becoming glabrous with age, the winter buds ovoid to ellipsoid, lacking scales, the pith solid. Petioles 3–10 mm long. Leaf blades narrowly to broadly ovate or obovate, rarely oblanceolate, rounded to broadly angled at the base, bluntly and broadly pointed to noticeably but abruptly tapered at the tip, the margins minutely toothed to entire or nearly so, the upper surface pale to dark green, glabrous or nearly so at maturity (sometimes minutely stellate-hairy along the main veins when young), the undersurface pale green or sometimes appearing grayish green to somewhat silvery, glabrous or sparsely and minutely stellate-hairy at maturity. Inflorescences terminal and/or axillary, clusters or short racemes of 2–20 flowers, sometimes of solitary flowers. Flowers perigynous, the calyces fused to the ovary for about half of their length, the stalk not jointed at the calyx base. Corollas deeply 5-lobed, bell-shaped to broadly bell-shaped or more or less saucer-shaped, the lobes often curled outward at full flowering. Stamens 10. Fruits drupelike, 5–11 mm long, gray to grayish green, subglobose to somewhat obovoid, not or only minutely beaked at the tip, not flattened, lacking wings, the surface densely pubescent with a covering of minute stellate hairs, the middle layer waxy or mealy, solid, indehiscent. Seeds with a relatively thick, hard coat, subglobose to ovoid or ellipsoid, rounded or blunt at each end. About 130 species, North America to South America, Caribbean Islands, Asia south to Indonesia.

Some species of Styrax are cultivated as ornamentals. A resin collected from the injured trunks of some of the Old World species is known as benzoin and gum benjamin. It has been used in incense, perfumes, and flavored cigarettes. It also was used medicinally in mixtures as a disinfectant and for the treatment of bronchitis and asthma.

It should be noted that there has been considerable controversy over the gender of the generic name Styrax (Wood and Channell, 1960; Howard, 1974). Current practice favors neuter terminations (with epithets mostly ending in -us), as Linnaeus (1753) intended in his original description of the genus.

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