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Synonym: Pastinaca Opoponax.
Common Names:Sweet myrrh or Bisabol myrrh
Habitat; Opoponax chironium thrives in warm climates like Iran, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Somalia, but also grows in cooler climates. Some view opopanax grown in cooler climates as being of inferior quality.
Opoponax chironium is a perennial herb, with a thick, fleshy root, yellowish in colour. It has a branching stem growing about 1 to 3 feet high, thick and rough near the base. Leaves pinnate, with long petioles and large serrate leaflets, the terminal one cordate, the rest deficient at the base, hairy underneath. The flowers, yellowish, are in large, flat umbels at the top of the branches. The oleo resin is procured by cutting into the stem at the base. The juice that exudes, when sun-dried, forms the Opoponax of commerce. A warm climate is necessary to produce an oleo gum resin of the first quality; that from France is inferior, for this reason. In commerce it is sometimes found in tears, but usually in small, irregular pieces. Colour, reddish-yellow, with whitish specks on the outside, paler inside. Odour, peculiar, strongly unpleasant. Taste, acrid and bitter. It is inflammable, burning brightly.
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Part Used: Concrete juice from the base of stem.
Constituents: Gum-resin, starch, wax, gum, lignin, volatile oil, malic acid, a slight trace of caoutchouc.
Antispasmodic, deobstruent. The resin has been used in the treatment of spasms, and, before that, as an emmenagogue, in the treatment of asthma, chronic visceral infections, hysteria and hypochondria. Opopanax resin is most frequently sold in dried irregular pieces, though tear-shaped gems are not uncommon.
A consumable resin can be extracted from opopanax by cutting the plant at the base of a stem and sun-drying the juice that flows out. Though people often find the taste acrid and bitter, the highly flammable resin can be burned as incense to produce a scent somewhat like balsam or lavender.
It is employed in perfumery.
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