seeds of Boswellia sacra, Frankincense
Boswellia sacra, also known as frankincense, is a tree species of the family Burseraceae. Synonyms include Boswellia bhawdajiana, Boswellia carteri, and Boswellia undulatocrenata. Another common name for Boswellia sacra is olibanum tree. The tree has its origins in Somalia and the Arabian Peninsula which comprises Yemen and Persia. Boswellia sacra can reach a height of 2 to 8 metres. The tree trunk has a papery texture and could be more than one per tree. The tree’s compound leaves comprise oppositely-arranged leaflets. Flowers are small, yellowish-white and grow in clusters. Fruits occur in the form of 1 cm long capsules. The tree has buttress roots that may grow up to tree base. Boswellia sacra becomes a rich source of resin once it reaches its 8th to 10th year of growth. One can obtain the resin by cutting a small slit on the tree trunk or the branches. One can also get the resin by removing the tree crust which exposes the resin to the open air resulting in a curdling effect. One can do the harvesting afterward. The resin usually passes through an industrial process that yields essential oils. Such companies use the essential oil to flavour a myriad number of foods. Alternatively, one could chew the resin given its edible. Another use of the plant lies in the manufacture of perfumes and anti-wrinkle creams where it serves as one of the ingredients. Various religious groups often burn resin as incense. One can propagate the plant through either using seeds or wood cuttings. The high productivity of the trees leaves them liable to overexploitation which leads to the tree producing weak seeds. Boswellia sacra mostly grows in ravines and slopes at altitudes of over 1200 metres. The soils and gradient at such locations is usually rocky and steep, hence the need for the buttress roots.
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