|1.||any of numerous styracaceous trees or shrubs of the genus Styrax, of tropical and subtropical regions, having drooping showy white flowers|
|2.||a vanilla-scented solid resin obtained from one of these trees, Styrax officinalis of the Mediterranean region and SW Asia, formerly used as incense and in perfumery and medicine|
|3.||a liquid aromatic balsam obtained from liquidambar trees, esp Liquidambar orientalis of SW Asia, and used in perfumery and medicine|
|[C14: via Late Latin from Greek, variant of |
any of about 120 species of the genus Styrax, shrubs and trees of the family Styracaceae, mostly in tropical or warm regions. The deciduous leaves are alternate and short-stalked. The white flowers, usually borne in pendulous terminal clusters, have a five-lobed corolla (the petals, collectively). Among the best-known cultivated species are S. japonicum (Japanese snowbell), native to East Asia and growing to about 9 metres (30 feet) tall; S. obassia (fragrant snowbell), native to Japan and growing to about 9 metres; S. americana, native to southeastern North America and growing from 1.8 to 2.7 metres (6 to 9 feet); and S. officinalis (snowdrop bush), native to eastern Europe and Asia Minor and growing to about 6 metres (20 feet). A resin known as storax, used in incense, was formerly obtained from S. officinalis.
Learn more about storax with a free trial on Britannica.com.