Hosea 4 :13 is the only reference to the styrax in the Bible. Although the shrub is referred to as "poplar" in this verse, its habitat on a mountaintop precludes both the white poplar and Euphrates poplar which are lowland trees. Styrax, Styrax officinalis, is a common shrub in many parts of the Middle East and is found both in the mountains as well as along rivers and streams. Considering its distribution and frequency, it is rather remarkable that it is mentioned only once.
In the early spring styrax bears masses of creamy white, bell-shaped, and fragrant flowers. The fruits, produced at the end of the summer are fleshy, ball-like and white. Because the shrub is so attractive, it apparently became the object of adulation as noted in the passage from Hosea.
The resin of the tree has been used in the production of perfume. In ancient times, a medicine was also derived from the tree.