Liquidambar Orientalis – Anatolian Amber Tree (Günlük)

Liquidambar Orientalis – Anatolian Amber Tree (Günlük)

Amber trees are members of the Hamamelidaceae family.  They are deciduous and grow in temperate climates.  They grow naturally in Turkey, Rhodes, Eastern Asia, South America and Mexico.  Liquidambar acalycina and liquidambar formosana which both come from the far east are unknown in Turkey.  Several varieties of liquidambar styraciflua, which originates in America and Mexico, have now been exported from Italy and can be found all over Europe and in Turkey.

Liquiambar orientalis ANATOLIAN AMBER TREE is popularly believed to only be found within Muğla province along the coastal strip.  This is not true and it can also be found, in the wild, in the provinces of Izmir, Antalya and Isparta.  Other than in Turkey, it can only be found in the northern areas of the island of Rhodes.  It is mostly found here in and around Marmaris, Köyceğiz and Fethiye.  In Isparta province, near to Sütcüler, there is a Protected Amber Forest.  According to the Forestry Commission this covers some 1,348 hectares.

On average the tree can reach a height of 15 – 20 metres with thick branches and a generous crown.  When first seen it resembles the oriental plane tree.  Closer inspection shows the bark is much thicker and has a cracked appearance.  Leaves, which generally have five lobes, are joined to the branches by long stems.  The fruits are 2 – 4cm. in diameter, round and contain many seeds.  The sap, or ‘balsam’, which can be extracted from the tree is used in the manufacture of cosmetics and medicines.

‘Amber trees’ as they are known in many trees are called ‘Günlük’ trees in Turkish.  They are grown especially for their foliage which is bright green in spring and summer, then turns yellow, orange or red in autumn before the leaves drop.

The tree likes humus-rich soil, slightly acidic, but will grow in other types.  However, it must have lots of water and will not withstand extended drought.  It has even been known to grow with its roots in streams.  It is happy in full sun or part shade.  It is usually grown from seed but can also be propagated from cuttings.

In landscape design terms it looks good as a specimen tree, or one of a group, on any green sward.  Normally the lower branches are not pruned as this leads to a pleasing overall shape for the tree, but if the tree is being grown to provide shade then the lower branches should be pruned.

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