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Commiphora wightii - (Arn.) Bhandari.

Common Name Guggul, Indian bdellium-tree
Family Burseraceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Rocky and open hilly areas or rough terrain and sandy tracts in warm and semiarid to arid areas at elevations from 250 - 1,800 metres[ 303 ].
Range E. Asia - Pakistan, central and northern India.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Commiphora wightii Guggul, Indian bdellium-tree


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Commiphora wightii Guggul, Indian bdellium-tree
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Summary

Guggul, Commiphora wightii, is a flowering small tree or shrub grown in northern Africa to Central Asia. It reaches up to 4 m in height. It has thin papery bark, thorny branches, simple or trifoliate leaves, red to pink flowers, and small round fruits. The plant's bark yields gummy resin that is commonly used in perfumery and in incense. C. wightii is used in Ayurvedic medicine. In fact, its extensive use in India has resulted to scarcity in Gujarat and Rajastan and it has been enlisted as endangered species. The gum extract is believed to decrease cholesterol synthesis in the liver. It is used to treat muscular rheumatism. Young branches are used as a toothbrush.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Commiphora wightii is a deciduous Shrub growing to 4 m (13ft) by 4 m (13ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10. The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (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

Commiphora roxburghii (Stocks) Engl.

Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Inner bark
Edible Uses:

A bitter, pungent gum is obtained from the bark[ 301 ].

Medicinal Uses

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The resin is alterative, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, astringent, carminative, demulcent, emmenagogue, expectorant and stomachic[ 46 , 240 ]. It is used in the treatment of muscular rheumatism[ 46 ]. The gum resin has been used extensively by Ayurvedic physicians for centuries to treat a wide variety of disorders[ 303 ]. It is a natural health product, used primarily to reduce elevated blood cholesterol levels[ 303 ]. It has been used for many years as a hypocholesterolemic agent in India, where it is has received prescription drug status, due to its high level of efficacy as determined by clinical trials[ 303 ].

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Other Uses

Agroforestry Uses: The plant is sometimes grown as a barrier hedge[ 303 ]. Other Uses The tree is the source of Guggul or Indian Bdellium, a gum-resin that exudes from the branches. It is largely used as an incense and in perfumery[ 287 ]. The thick branches are selected in winter and their bark incised to extract the oleo resin gum[ 299 ]. The commercial product of the oleo-gum resin contains 58% resin along with mineral matter, 32.3% gum, 4.65% foreign organic matter and 1.45% aromatic essential oil[ 303 ]. Young branches are used as a toothbrush to clean the teeth and maintain dental hygiene[ 303 ].

Cultivation details

A plant of arid and semi-arid areas in the tropics where it can be found at elevations from 250 - 1,800 metres. It is found in areas where the mean annual rainfall is within the range 225 - 500mm and the temperature ranges from 20 - 35c[ 303 ]. Requires a sunny position[ 303 ]. Found in the wild in sandy and rocky soils[ 303 ]. A slow growing plant, it takes 8 to 10 years to reach a height of 3 - 3.5 metres. Pruning or the removal of branches in the early stages of the plant's growth helps to achieve better growth, increases the girth of growing branches and thereby leads to better gum yield[ 303 ]. The plant generally takes ten years to reach tapping maturity under the dry climatic conditions of its native environment[ 303 ]. The yields are in the order of 200 - 500 gm of dry guggul per tree per season[ 303 ]. Plants are dimorphic, one form having bisexual and male flowers, whilst the other has female flowers with staminodes[ 287 ]. It is inferred that pollen grains from bisexual or male flowers, present on the first form of plants are needed for the production of normal fruits on plants with only female flowers[ 287 ]. It has become so scarce in its two habitats in India - Gujarat and Rajasthan - that the World Conservation Union (IUCN) has enlisted it in its Red Data List of endangered species.

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Propagation

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors. Seed Collecting: Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Other names include Indian bdellium-tree, gugal, gugul, and Mukul myrrh tree.

Found In

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

Found In: northern Africa to central Asia, but is most common in northern India.

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 : Commiphora wightii Status: Critically Endangered A2cd

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Author

(Arn.) Bhandari.

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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