Economic Botany

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 425-433

First online:

Frankincense and myrrh

  • Arthur O. TuckerAffiliated withDepartment of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Delaware State College

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While frankincense and myrrh have been harvested from a multitude of species, certain species have predominated in history.Boswellia carteri andB. frereana are the main sources of frankincense today, whileB. papyrifera was the principal source of antiquity andB. sacra was the principal species of classical times.Commiphora myrrha is the chief source of myrrh today, butC. erythraea was the principal source of ancient and classical times. Each of these oleo-gum-resins has a characteristic odor that is predominately due to a mixture of complex sesquiterpenes.