Botanical name: Boswellia serrata Family: Burseraceae (Torchwood family)
Synonyms: Boswellia glabra, Boswellia thurifera, Bursera thurifera
Indian Olibanum is a deciduous tree endemic to India and has been recorded on dry hills and slopes, on gravelly soils between an altitude range of 275-900 m. It is a medium sized tree, 3-5 m tall, with ash coloured papery bark. Alternately arranged leaves are pinnate, crowded at the end of branches, 20-40 cm long. There are 8-15 pairs of leaflets, 3-6 cm long, with an odd one at the tip. Leaflets are ovate, with toothed margin. Flowers are tiny, creamy, about 8 mm across, borne in 10-15 cm long racemes in leaf axils. There are 10 stamens with a short style and a 3-lobed stigma. Fruits are 2 cm long, 3-cornered. Indian Olibanum tree, on injury, exudates an oleo-gum-resin known as Salai, Guggal or Indian Frankincense. Flowering: January.
Medicinal uses: Extracts of Indian Olibanum have been clinically studied for osteoarthritis and joint function, particularly for osteoarthritis of the knee. A Boswellia extract marketed under the name Wokvel has undergone human efficacy, comparative, pharmacokinetic studies. Indian Olibanum is used in the manufacture of the supposed anti-wrinkle agent "Boswelox", which has been criticised as being ineffective.
Identification credit: Satish Phadke
The flower labeled Indian Olibanum is ...