Boswellia (2009)

By Eric Driskill (March 2009)

Boswellia are trees known for their fragrant resin with many pharmacological uses. The Biblical frankincense was likely extracted from the resin of Boswellia sacra. Four species of Boswellia produce true frankincense of various grades. Grades of resin depend on the time of harvesting.

A few of the sought-after boswellias are B. nana from Socotra, B. neglecta from East Africa and B. sacra from East Africa, Yemen. All Boswellia species appear to have similar growth requirements.

Temperatures in the 80s produce the best growth. The plants are extremely slow-growing and even moreso when temperatures are too cool or too hot. Boswellias grow much faster if raised in beds compared to plants grown in pots. The plants also enjoy high light levels. If grown in a greenhouse using a pot, you may want to consider placing these plants up high to supply optimal light and added heat.

If you don’t have a goat to help prune your plants, you may want to pinch growth in order to achieve a more stout form with a caudiciform appearance. Boswellias can be propagated using seed and stem or root cuttings. With its glossy, dark-green leaves, which are crinkly and have a beautiful vein pattern, this is a plant that commands attention.

Boswellias continue to be a challenge to find and expensive when you do find them. One look at any picture or nicely grown plant may be enough for you to add this to your list or move it toward the top of your list. When you finally locate one for sale, it will likely be a small import, seedling or cutting.