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Botanical Name: Commiphora Opobalsamum
Synonyms: Balsamum Meccae var. Judiacum. Balsamum Gileadense. Baume de la Mecque. Balsamodendrum Opobalsamum. Balessan. Bechan. Balsam Tree. Amyris Gileadensis. Amyris Opobalsamum. Balsumodendron Gileadensis. Protium Gileadense. Dossémo.
Part Used: The resinous juice.
Habitat:Commiphora Opobalsamum is native to countries on both sides of the Red Sea.
Commiphora Opobalsamum is a small tree, the source of the genuine Balm of Gilead around which so many mystical associations have gathered stands from 10 to 12 feet high, with wandlike, spreading branches. The bark is of a rich brown colour, the leaves, trifoliate, are small and scanty, the flowers unisexual small, and reddish in colour, while the seeds are solitary, yellow, and grooved down one side. It is both rare, and difficult to rear, and is so much valued by the Turks that its importation is prohibited. They have grown the trees in guarded gardens at Matarie, near Cairo, from the days of Prosper Alpin, who wrote the Dialogue of Balm, and the balsam is valued as a cosmetic by the royal ladies. In the Bible, and in the works of Bruce Theophrastes, Galen, and Dioscorides, it is lauded.
Leaves in Commiphora are pinnately compound (or very rarely unifoliolate). Many species are armed with spines. Bark is often exfoliating, peeling in thin sheets to reveal colorful, sometimes photosynthetic bark, below. Stems are frequently succulent, especially in species native to drier environments. Flowers are subdioecious and fruits are drupes, usually with a 2-locular ovary (one is abortive). In response to wounding, the stems of many species will exude aromatic resins
The wood is found in small pieces, several kinds being known commercially, but it rapidly loses its odour. The fruit is reddish grey, and the size of a small pea, with an agreeable and aromatic taste. In Europe and America it is so seldom found in a pure state that its use is entirely discontinued .
Constituents: The liquid balm is turbid whitish, thick, grey and odorous, and becomes solid by exposure. It contains a resin soluble in alcohol, and a principle resembling Bassorin.
Medicinal Uses: It has been used in diseases of the urinary tracts, but is said to possess no medicinal properties not found in other balsams.
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