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Boswellia sacra / carterii
B. frereana, B. serrata, B. papyrifera, etc.



Description: Frankincense is the common western name for the water soluble gum resin from some 25+ species of the Boswellia genus evergreen trees. Production of the resin is increased by incising the tree with a knife-like tool called a mengaff and the resin is harvested about two weeks later. The trees prefer dry, arid climates and limestone-rich soils. They grow to about 20 ft. (8m) and are often found between rocks or on dangerous cliff faces.


Use of this famous incense ingredient dates back to earliest written history. In the Bible it's one of the ingredients in the holy incense mixture given to Moses and also one of the gifts from the Magi to Jesus. It's commonly recognized western name, frankincense, is said to have originated from the Frankish (French) Knights of the Crusades, who treasured it in large quantities.


In the western religious faiths it is said "frankincense is of the heavens and myrrh is of the earth" and that's a good description for how they smell.


Threatened Species Alert: The 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species now includes several frankincense/olibanum trees. See Cropwatch or IUCN


Status: B. sacra/carterii Birdw. from Somalia is "Lower Risk near Threatened"


Status: B. sacra/carterii Birdw. from Oman is "Critically Endangered" (FRA 2005).  


Status: B. papyrifera from Ethiopia and Sudan is "Endangered"


We recommend using Boswellia frereana from Somalia and/or Boswellia serrata from India.

Family: Burseraceae

Synonyms: olibanum, luban, mohor, beyo, maidi, etc.

Origin: India, Southern Arabia: Aden (Yemen) and Oman, Northeastern Africa: Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya

Parts Used: gum resin

Aroma Description: depends upon species: often fresh, fruity, citrus bouquet with delicate sweet, resinous, and woody undertones

Emotional Attributes: meditation, prayer, cleansing/purifying, strengthening, creativity

Cosmetic Uses: perfumery, aromatherapy; creams, lotions, soaps, shampoos, etc.

Culinary Uses: resin is often chewed as gum, soaked in wines. Fruits are fed to livestock

Medicinal Attributes: anti-inflammatory, used to treat rheumatism, bronchial and urinary infections, used externally as an inhalant to relieve excess mucus. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) the resin is used for menstrual pain and externally for injuries, skin disorders. In TCM and Arabian medicine the resin and its oil is used as a mouthwash for gum, mouth and throat complaints. It's also highly prized in Ayurvedic medicine.

Element Association: Fire

Magical Associations: spirituality, protection, courage

Astrological Association: Leo, Aries, Sagittarius, Virgo

Planetary Association: Sun

Season: SpringSummer

Aromatic Note: Base note

Essential Oil: Yes, steam and C02 distilled essential oils are manufactured. C02 oils will usually have a greater content of the resins' original chemistry. Threatened Species Alert: The 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species now includes Oman Frankincense as "critically endangered" - see Cropwatch or IUCN We recommend using Boswellia frereana from Somalia and/or Boswellia serrata from India.

Mixes Well With: amber, basil, benzoin, borneol camphor, calamus, cassia, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, dammar, dragons blood, elemi, eucalyptus, galangal, galbanum, ginger, guggul, laurel, lavender, lemongrass, lemon balm, mastic, musk seed, myrrh, opoponax, pine needles, palo santo wood, rose, rosemary, saffron, sandarac, star anise, storax, tonka beans, etc.

Medical Disclaimer: Information on this web site is for entertainment purposes only. This information is NOT intended as medical advice or for use as diagnosis or treatment of a health problem or as a substitute for consulting a licensed medical professional.

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