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Commiphora myrrha - (Nees) Engl.

Common Name Myrrh, Myrrh Gum
Family Burseraceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards This herb is contraindicated during pregnancy because of its emmenagogic activity. It is advisable to dilute myrrh before use and administer moderate doses. Allergic reactions have been observed[ 303 ]. (Poison: This herb is contraindicated during pregnancy because of its emmenagogic activity. It is advisable to dilute myrrh before use and administer moderate doses. Allergic reactions have been observed.)
Habitats Thickets in desert scrubland[ 238 , 254 ]. Open Acacia, Commiphora bushland on shallow soil, chiefly over limestone at elevations from 250 - 1,300 metres[ 303 ].
Range Eastern and northeastern Tropical Africa - Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya; Arabian Peninsula - Saudi Arabia, Oman..
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Care
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Commiphora myrrha Myrrh, Myrrh Gum


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Commiphora myrrha Myrrh, Myrrh Gum
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Summary

Myrrh, Commiphora myrrha, is a deciduous spiny tree that grows up to 5 m high and 1.5 m wide. The leaves are oblong to oval and have 3 leaflets per leaf. Each leaflet is about 1 cm long. The four-petal flowers are yellow-red and narrowly oval. It is drought and frost-tolerant. It is propagated by seeds or cuttings. It is otherwise known as Dheddin. The bark yields a fragrant resin used as flavouring fir sweets, baked goods, beverages, chewing gum, and desserts. It is also used in perfumery and as incense. The resin promotes healing and relieves spasms, inflammation and digestive discomfort. If taken internally, it treats dyspepsia, infections of the ear, tonsillitis, fever, etc. The resin yields essential oil which is used for treating skin and mouth problems. The plant is used externally for wounds, boils, and mouth ulcers, and added to oral preparations.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Commiphora myrrha is a deciduous Shrub growing to 5 m (16ft) by 6 m (19ft) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10 and is not frost tender.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Balsamea myrrha (T.Nees) Oken Balsamea myrrha Baill. Balsamea playfairii Engl. Balsamodendrum myrrha

Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Inner bark
Edible Uses:

A fragrant, balsam-like gum oleo-resin is obtained from wounds in the bark of the stems[ 46 ]. It is used for flavouring beverages, baked goods, sweets, desserts, chewing gum etc[ 301 ].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.


The resin obtained from the bark of myrrh is a pungent, astringent, aromatic herb that is strongly stimulant, antiseptic and expectorant[ 238 ]. It relieves spasms, inflammation and digestive discomfort, and encourages healing[ 238 ]. It is particularly associated with women's health and purification rituals[ 238 ]. The resin is taken internally in the treatment of dyspepsia, bronchial and ear infections, glandular fever, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, gingivitis, menstrual and circulatory problems[ 238 ]. Myrrh is used externally to treat mouth ulcers, wounds and boils and is often added to oral preparations[ 238 ]. It is one of the most effective herbal medicines for treating sore throats, mouth ulcers and gingivitis[ 254 ]. The mild astringency makes it a useful treatment for acne, boils and mild inflammatory skin problems[ 254 ]. The resin is collected from cut branches and dried to a solid, which can be distilled for oil, ground into a powder for tablets, or dissolved in tinctures[ 238 ]. An essential oil obtained from the resin is used by aromatherapists as a natural antiseptic for treating skin and mouth problems[ 303 ].

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Other Uses

Agroforestry Uses: An important species protecting soil in wind erosion prone areas[ 303 ]. Other Uses A hard, translucent, yellowish gum-resin is obtained from wounds in the stem[ 46 ]. It has an aromatic taste and odour, but may be acrid and bitter[ 303 ]. It is inflammable, but burns feebly[ 299 ]. It is used for perfumery and as an incense during religious ceremonies[ 46 ]. It was also originally used in embalming[ 46 ]. Myrrh is a common ingredient of toothpowder, and is used with borax in tincture, with other ingredients, as a mouth-wash[ 303 ]. An essential oil can be obtained from the plant[ 303 ]. (From the resin?[ K ].) The oil is deep amber in colour with a warm, spicy, bitter and smoky aroma. Myrrh oil is considered helpful for meditation, and aromatherapists recommend the naturally antiseptic essential oil for skin and mouth problems[ 303 ].

Cultivation details

A plant for the drier tropics and subtropics, where it can be found at elevations from 250 - 1,300 metres[ 238 , 303 ]. Plants prefer a minimum temperature that does not fall below about 10°c[ 238 ]. It grows wild in areas where the mean annual rainfall is within the range 230 - 300mm[ 303 ]. Requires a well-drained soil and a position in full sun[ 238 ]. Prefers shallow soils and is chiefly found over limestone[ 303 ]. Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping.

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Propagation

Seed - Hardwood cuttings at the end of the growing season[ 238 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Myrrh, Commiphora myrrha. other Names: Dheddin. African myrrh, herabol myrrh, Somali myrrhor, common myrrh, or gum myrrh.

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Found In: Africa, Arabia, Asia, Australia, East Africa, Ethiopia, Mediterranean, Somalia, Yemen.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Commiphora wightiiGuggul, Indian bdellium-tree23

 

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Author

(Nees) Engl.

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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