South Indian Olibanum
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South Indian Olibanum
D Native Photo: Ashutosh Sharma
Common name: South Indian Olibanum
Botanical name: Boswellia ovalifoliolata    Family: Burseraceae (Torchwood family)

South Indian Olibanum is a narrowly endemic and endangered deciduous tree. The leaves are compound and crowded at the ends of branches. The flowers are borne in branched panicles at the ends of the branches. Each branch produces 8-10 inflorescences and each inflorescence produces about 30 flowers over a period of 5-14 days. The flowers are stalked, greenish-white, 6 mm long, 5 mm across, mildly fragrant, cup-shaped, bisexual. Petals are 5, white, free, overlapping, 5 mm long and erect. Sepals are 5, minute, basally fused, overlapping, light green, lightly velvet-hairy outside and persistent without any further growth during post-fertilization stage in fruited flowers. Stamens are inserted outside a fleshy annular pinkish-red nectary disc which is present outside the ovary at the flower base. They are 10 arranged in two whorls. The pistil is clearly distinguished into ovary, style and stigma. The ovary is superior, trilocular, each locule with two drooping ovules borne on axile placentation. The style is light pink at base and dark green above, 4 mm long and trilobed. The stigma is short, head-like, shiny. South Indian Olibanum is found only in a small region of Eastern Ghats in Andhra Pradesh.
Medicinal uses: The plant is over exploited for its medicinal uses. The fresh leaf juice used to prevent throat ulcers. Decoction of the stem bark 10-25 ml per day reduces rheumatic pains. The gum obtained from the trunk which is highly medicated. This gum is sold in the local market by the native tribals as Konda sambrani in Telugu language. Small lumps of fresh light yellow colored liquid oozes out from the stem and hardens on exposure. Shade dried gum is powdered dissolved in water and mixed with curd and given orally to cure amoebic dysentery.

Identification credit: Ashutosh Sharma Photographed in FRLHT/TDU Botanical Garden, Bengalur.

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