=Habitat and Range.=--In various soils and situations; sandy or rich
woods, along the borders of peaty swamps.
Provinces of Quebec and Ontario.
Maine,--this tree grows not beyond Black Point (Scarboro, Cumberland
county) eastward (Josselyn's New England Rarities, 1672); not reported
again by botanists for more than two hundred years; rediscovered at
Wells in 1895 (Walter Deane) and North Berwick in 1896 (J. C. Parlin);
New Hampshire,--lower Merrimac valley, eastward to the coast and along
the Connecticut valley to Bellows Falls; Vermont,--occasional south of
the center; Pownal (Robbins, Eggleston); Hartland and Brattleboro
(Bates), Vernon (Grant); Massachusetts,--common especially in the
eastern sections; Rhode Island and Connecticut,--common.
South to Florida; west to Michigan, Iowa, Kansas, and Texas.
=Habit.=--Generally a shrub or small tree but sometimes reaching a
height of 40-50 feet and a trunk diameter of 2-4 feet; attaining a
maximum in the southern and southwestern states of 80-100 feet in height
and a trunk diameter of 6-7 feet; head open, flattish or rounded;
branches at varying angles, stout, crooked, and irregular; spray bushy;
marked in winter by the contrasting reddish-brown of the trunk, the
bright yellowish-green of the shoots and the prominent flower-buds, in
early spring by the drooping racemes of yellow flowers, in autumn by the
rich yellow or red-tinted foliage and handsome fruit, at all seasons by
the aromatic odor and spicy flavor of all parts of the tree, especially
the bark of the root.
=Bark.=--Bark of trunk deep reddish-brown, deeply and firmly ridged in
old trees, in young trees greenish-gray, finely and irregularly striate,
the outer layer often curiously splitting, resembling a sort of filagree
work; branchlets reddish-brown, marked with warts of russet brown;
season's shoots at first minutely pubescent, in the fall more or less
mottled, bright yellowish-green.
=Winter Buds and Leaves.=--Flower-buds conspicuous, terminal, ovate to
elliptical, the outer scales rather loose, more or less pubescent, the
inner glossy, pubescent; lateral buds much smaller. Leaves simple,
alternate, often opposite, 3-5 inches long, two-thirds as wide,
downy-tomentose when young, at maturity smooth, yellowish-green above,
lighter beneath, with midrib conspicuous and minutely hairy; outline of
two forms, one oval to oblong, entire, usually rounded at the apex,
wedge-shaped at base; the other oval to obovate, mitten-shaped or
3-lobed to about the center, with rounded sinuses; apex obtuse or
rounded; base wedge-shaped; leafstalk about 1 inch long; stipules none.
=Inflorescence.=--April or early May. Appearing with the leaves in
slender, bracted, greenish-yellow, corymbous racemes, from terminal buds
of the preceding season, sterile and fertile flowers on separate
trees,--sterile flowers with 9 stamens, each of the three inner with two
stalked orange-colored glands, anthers 4-celled, ovary abortive or
wanting: fertile flowers with 6 rudimentary stamens in one row; ovary
ovoid; style short.
=Fruit.=--Generally scanty, drupes, ovoid, deep blue, with club-shaped,
bright red stalk.
=Horticultural Value.=--Hardy throughout New England; adapted to a great
variety of soils, but prefers a stony, well-drained loam or gravel. Its
irregular masses of foliage, which color so brilliantly in the fall,
make it an extremely interesting tree in plantations, but it has always
been rare in nurseries and difficult to transplant; suckers, however,
can be moved readily. Propagated easily from seed.
1. Winter buds.
2. Branch with sterile flowers.
3. Sterile flower.
4. Branch with fertile flowers.
5. Fertile flower.
6. Fruiting branch.
HAMAMELIDACEAE. WITCH HAZEL FAMILY.
=Liquidambar Styraciflua, L.=
Next: Sweet Gum
Previous: Magnoliaceae Magnolia Family