Peru Balsam
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Peru Balsam
ntroduced Photo: Prashant Awale
Common name: Peru Balsam, Tolu balsam, Stocking Tree
Botanical name: Myroxylon balsamum    Family: Fabaceae (Pea family)
Synonyms: Toluifera balsamum, Myroxylon toluiferum

Peru Balsam is a large and beautiful tree with a valuable wood like mahogany, and a straight smooth trunk. Trunk is coarse grey, compact, heavy granulated and a pale straw colour, containing a resin which changes from citron to dark brown, smell and taste balsamic and aromatic. Leaves are alternately arranged, oddly pinnate, leaflets 3-11, mostly opposite, ovate, lanceolate with the end blunt emarginate. Flowers are whitish, corolla 5-petalled. The flowers have a fragrance which can be smelt a hundred yards away. Every part of the tree including the leaves abounds in a resinous juice. The mesocarp of the fruit is fibrous, and the balsamic juice which is abundant is contained in two distinct receptacles, one on each side. The beans contain Coumarin, the husks an extremely acrid bitter resin, and a volatile oil; a gum resin, quite distinct from the proper balsam, exudes from the trunk of the tree and contains gum resin and a volatile oil; the tree commences to be productive after five or six years, and continues to yield for thirty years. The tree is well known for its yield of balsam used in perfumes, harvested mainly in El Salvador. Peru Balsam is found in a wide range from southern Mexico southward through Central American and continuing to Argentina.
Medicinal uses: Used in scabies and skin diseases; it destroys the itch acarus and its eggs, and is much to be preferred to sulphur ointment, also of value in prurigo, pruritis and in later stages of acute eczema. It is a good antiseptic expectorant and a stimulant to the heart, increasing blood pressure; its action resembles benzoic acid. It is applied externally to sore nipples and discharges from the ear.

Identification credit: Viplav
Photographed in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
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