Boswellia sacra- Frankincense Tree

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Umbrian

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Boswellia sacra- Frankincense Tree
« on: December 26, 2012, 07:56:11 AM »
This posting was supposed to appear yesterday as a seasonal one but having typed it up my "posting" failed and I did not have the time to repeat it. So, here we go again and I hope this time to be successful ::)
An article about Boswellia sacra in The Telegraph caught my eye and I thought it would be interesting to precis it for the Forum.
The Frankincense tree that for centuries has been tapped for its resin, prized for the sweet smoke it emits when burnt and also as a key ingredient in many perfumes, is under threat. Many of us only probably know of it through the Christmas story when it 's oil was one of the gifts brought by the Magi. This tree needs quite specific desert conditions to succeed such as those found in the Arabian Peninsular and parts of North Africa such as Ethiopia. In the latter country, in an effort to help poorer farmers ,permits to harvest the resin ,that had previously been a national concession . were extended to individuals. This has resulted in over exploitation and many of the trees are now suffering. Around 9 "taps" per year used to be the norm but now many trees are being tapped 20+ times in one year with dire results. These trees are weakened and subject to infestation by beetles that lay their eggs under the damaged bark. Overtapped trees also have a very low pollen rate of 16% compared to 80% for healthy trees. Ironically farmers are now turning to more profitable crops that need less space.
In our modern world it would appear that many of its natural resouces are under threat and it would be nice to think that we, as keen and resposible gardeners ,are helping in some small way to redress the balance.  :)
Season's Greetings to all my "friends" on the Forum
MGS member living and gardening in Umbria, Italy for past 19 years. Recently moved from my original house and now planning and planting a new small garden.

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Alisdair

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Re: Boswellia sacra- Frankincense Tree
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2012, 12:01:08 PM »
Thanks for that timely thought, Carole! I wonder whether anyone on this forum has tried growing the tree? I suppose conditions in parts of Israel would suit it.
One of the pleasures of Christmas here in the UK is the service of nine lessons and carols from King's College, Cambridge - this year and last, enhanced by the beautiful mellifluous voice of Dr Basim Musallam reading the 8th lesson. His enunciation of "gold, frankincense and myrrh" really conjured up the exotic allure of those treasures.
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

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JTh

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Re: Boswellia sacra- Frankincense Tree
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2012, 03:48:44 PM »
Alisdair, we saw a frankincense tree last year in the Kibbutz Ein Gedi, which is also  recognisde as a botanical garden.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2012, 12:07:16 AM by JTh »
Retired veterinary surgeon by training with a PhD in parasitology,  but worked as a virologist since 1992.
Member of the MGS  since 2004. Gardening in Oslo and to a limited extent in Halkidiki, Greece.

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Alisdair

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Re: Boswellia sacra- Frankincense Tree
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2012, 09:39:14 PM »
Jorun, Thanks for jogging my decrepit memory! And as Ein Gedi was so much less desert-like (almost paradisiacal) than many Mediterranean places, if the Boswellia can be grown there I guess it can flourish in lots of other places. Presumably you haven't been tempted yourself!
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

David Bracey

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Re: Boswellia sacra- Frankincense Tree
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2012, 09:51:03 PM »
The BBC ran a TV series recently anchored by Kate ?????????,  on the collection of Frankincense in the Yemen and Oman.  It was then taken by camel around the Gulf of Oman and along the Red sea coast to the port of Haifa.  The cameltrain passed many check points where a toll was duly collected.

I decided that Boswellia was not a Mediterranean tree and that an article was not really justified for TMG.
MGS member.

 I have gardened in sub-tropical Florida, maritime UK, continental Europe and the Mediterranean basin, France. Of the 4 I have found that the most difficult climate for gardening is the latter.

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JTh

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Re: Boswellia sacra- Frankincense Tree
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2012, 12:08:43 AM »
Alisdair, I have not been tempted, yet.
Retired veterinary surgeon by training with a PhD in parasitology,  but worked as a virologist since 1992.
Member of the MGS  since 2004. Gardening in Oslo and to a limited extent in Halkidiki, Greece.

Trevor Australis

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Re: Boswellia sacra- Frankincense Tree
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2013, 10:44:24 PM »
Boswellia is not a big tree in habitat. It is much admired by people who grow desert plants such as pachycauls, caudiciforms and xerophytes and they are grown as pot plants. Semi-mature specimens are treated almost like bonsai. They'd need protection from cold, frost, snow and wetness but they'd be worth trying I think.  tn
M Land. Arch., B. Sp. Ed. Teacher, traveller and usually climate compatible.