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Useful Tropical Plants

Boswellia serrata

Roxb. ex Colebr.

Burseraceae

+ Synonyms

Common Name: Indian Frankincense

Boswellia serrata
Looking up into the crown
Photograph by: Ventilago
Creative Commons License
Boswellia serrata Boswellia serrata

General Information

Indian Frankincense is a medium sized deciduous tree with a light, spreading crown and somewhat drooping branches. It usually grows from 9 - 15 metres tall. The bole is usually short, 3 - 5 metres long, but is sometimes longer if grown in a fully stocked forest[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
The plant has a long history of medicinal use in India, with records going back over 2,000 years. The tree is harvested from the wild, especially for its gum and bark, which are traded locally and internationally. It is also used in replanting schemes for poor soils and is sometimes grown as an ornamental[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It is a popular aveue tree in India[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References


Range

E. Asia - Indian subcontinent[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
].

Habitat

Tropical dry deciduous forests, in very dry teak forests or in dry mixed deciduous forests at elevations up to 1,150 metres[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Characteristically found on slopes and ridges, as well as on flat terrain, attaining a larger size on fertile soils[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitDeciduous Tree
Height12.00 m
Growth RateSlow
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Ornamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant of the semi-arid to moist tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,150 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 33 - 42°c, but can tolerate 7 - 47°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Mature plants can be killed by temperatures of -2°c or lower, but new growth can be severely damaged at -1°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,000 - 1,500mm, but tolerates 500 - 2,000mm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Requires a sunny position[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It grows well on neutral soils above gneiss, schist, quartzite, limestone and sandstone, and has the ability to thrive in the poorest and the shallowest of soils where most of its associates remain stunted[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 6.5, tolerating 5 - 7.4[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
The tree produces root suckers and responds well to both coppicing and pollarding[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
Plants are resistant to damage from fires[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
A mature tree yields about 1 - 1.5 kilos of gum a year[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Edible Uses

Flowers[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
].

Seed[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
].

An edible gum is obtained from the plant[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
].

Medicinal

The plant has a long history of use in Ayurveda.
Modern research has shown the presence of a gum, resin and essential oil[
304
Title
Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Kapoor. L. D.
Publisher
CRC Press, Florida.
Year
2001
ISBN
0-8493-2929-9
Description
A very detailed book on some of the key Ayurvedic herbs, giving both technical and non-technical information on each plant. The whole is very well referenced.
]. Phytosterol is reported to contain b-sistosterol[
304
Title
Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Kapoor. L. D.
Publisher
CRC Press, Florida.
Year
2001
ISBN
0-8493-2929-9
Description
A very detailed book on some of the key Ayurvedic herbs, giving both technical and non-technical information on each plant. The whole is very well referenced.
].
An alcoholic extract of the root has shown anti-cancer activity against human epidermal carcinoma of the nasopharynx[
304
Title
Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Kapoor. L. D.
Publisher
CRC Press, Florida.
Year
2001
ISBN
0-8493-2929-9
Description
A very detailed book on some of the key Ayurvedic herbs, giving both technical and non-technical information on each plant. The whole is very well referenced.
].
Alcoholic extracts of both the root and the fruit have shown CNS-depressant activity[
304
Title
Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Kapoor. L. D.
Publisher
CRC Press, Florida.
Year
2001
ISBN
0-8493-2929-9
Description
A very detailed book on some of the key Ayurvedic herbs, giving both technical and non-technical information on each plant. The whole is very well referenced.
].
Both fruit and stem extracts have shown hypoglycaemic activity[
304
Title
Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Kapoor. L. D.
Publisher
CRC Press, Florida.
Year
2001
ISBN
0-8493-2929-9
Description
A very detailed book on some of the key Ayurvedic herbs, giving both technical and non-technical information on each plant. The whole is very well referenced.
].
The non-phenolic faction of the gum resin has shown marked sedative and analgesic effects[
304
Title
Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Kapoor. L. D.
Publisher
CRC Press, Florida.
Year
2001
ISBN
0-8493-2929-9
Description
A very detailed book on some of the key Ayurvedic herbs, giving both technical and non-technical information on each plant. The whole is very well referenced.
].

The bark, and the gum obtained from it, are alterative, aperient, aromatic, demulcent, diuretic, emmenagogue and refrigerant[
304
Title
Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Kapoor. L. D.
Publisher
CRC Press, Florida.
Year
2001
ISBN
0-8493-2929-9
Description
A very detailed book on some of the key Ayurvedic herbs, giving both technical and non-technical information on each plant. The whole is very well referenced.
].
The gum resin is used in the treatment of chronic lung diseases, diarrhoea, dysentery, pulmonary diseases, menorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, gonorrhoea, syphilitic affection, piles and liver disorders[
304
Title
Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Kapoor. L. D.
Publisher
CRC Press, Florida.
Year
2001
ISBN
0-8493-2929-9
Description
A very detailed book on some of the key Ayurvedic herbs, giving both technical and non-technical information on each plant. The whole is very well referenced.
].
A paste made of the gum resin, combined with coconut oil or lemon juice, is applied to ulcers, indolent swellings, carbuncles, boils and ringworm[
304
Title
Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Kapoor. L. D.
Publisher
CRC Press, Florida.
Year
2001
ISBN
0-8493-2929-9
Description
A very detailed book on some of the key Ayurvedic herbs, giving both technical and non-technical information on each plant. The whole is very well referenced.
].
The oil extracted from the gum resin is prescribed with a demulcent drink in the treatment of gonorrhoea[
304
Title
Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Kapoor. L. D.
Publisher
CRC Press, Florida.
Year
2001
ISBN
0-8493-2929-9
Description
A very detailed book on some of the key Ayurvedic herbs, giving both technical and non-technical information on each plant. The whole is very well referenced.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

The tree is a suitable species for re-forestation on poorer soils in areas with a mean annual rainfall of 500 - 1.250mm. It is valuable for reclothing dry sandstone hills which have been denuded of vegetation, where soil is markedly ferruginous and where complete protection against biotic factors is not always feasible. Under such circumstances, its ability to withstand the adverse effects of forest fires, its immunity to being browsed or lopped for fodder, its power of resisting the effects of insolation and drought, and its capacity for reproduction by seed, coppice and root suckers are great assets[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Other Uses

A transparent, golden-yellow gum that hardens slowly is obtained from the plant[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
]. It is used in medicine[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
].
The tree yields a yellowish-green gum-oleoresin known as ‘salai guggal’ from wounds in the bark. This gum has an agreeable scent when burnt[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. It is said to be a good substitute for imported Canada balsam[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
The tree is also tapped for a resin called 'lobal', which is used as incense[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

A fibre obtained from the bark is used for cordage[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

The wood is of low quality, it is sometimes used for items such as cheap furniture, tea boxes, bowls, dishes etc, and as a source of pulp for paper production[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. The wood has recently come into prominence as a raw material for pulp paper and newsprint. Experiments show that writing and printing papers of suitable strength can be prepared when 25 - 40% long-fibred bamboo pulp is mixed in the finish[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
The wood is used for fuel and for making charcoal[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Charcoal made from it is particularly favoured for iron smelting[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Propagation

Seed - it has a short viability and is best sown as soon as it is ripe.

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