FoI
Indian Olibanum   
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Indian Olibanum
D Native Tree
Photo: Satish Phadke
Common name: Indian Olibanum, Indian frankincense • Gujarati: સાલેડી saaledi, સલાઈ ગૂગળ salaai gugul • Hindi: शल्लकी shallaki, kundur, luban • Kannada: ಗುಗ್ಗುಳ ಮರ guggula mara • Malayalam: കുങ്ങില്യം kungilyam • Marathi: धुपाळी dhupali, धूपसाळी dhupasali, कुरुंद kurunda, सालफळी salaphali, साळई salai, साळी sali • Oriya: salai • Sanskrit: भीषण bhishan, गुग्गुल guggula, हस्तिनशना hastinashana, पालंक palank, पार्वती parvati, ऱ्हादिनी hradini, कुरुन्द kurunda, सल्लकी sallaki, शल्लकी shallaki, स्रुवा sruva • Tamil: குமஞ்சம் kumancam, குங்கிலியம் kunkiliyam, மரத்துவெள்ளை marattu-vellai, பறங்கிச்சாம்பிராணி paranki-c-campi-rani, வெள்ளிக்கீரை vellai-k-kirai • Telugu: గుగ్గిలము guggilamu, పరంగిసాంబ్రాణిచెట్టు parangi-sambrani-chettu, సల్లకి sallaki • Urdu: kundur, lobana
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
Photographed in Maharashtra.

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