Commiphora bruceae

Synonyms:

Commiphora kua

Habitat:

Somalia, where it grows in light soils from 40 to 1300 meters above sea level.

Description:

Commiphora bruceae is a shrub or a small tree, present in nature mainly in Somalia, where it grows in light soils from 40 to 1300 meters above sea level.

Botanists disagree on how to classify Commiphora bruceae: some taxonomic classifications consider the name a synonym of Commiphora kua, the plant from which myrrh is obtained, while others distinguish the two species due to small morphological differences. However, both produce gum resins.

Commiphora bruceae is a thorny sapling that reaches a maximum of 3-5 meters in height, with a thick grayish trunk with a yellowish bark that comes off in horizontal strips as if it were skin.

From this trunk a milky and whitish exudate is formed, at first without scent but then develops an unpleasant but not very strong fishy smell.

Twigs are very thin and small, if compared with the thick trunk: from them the leaves appear in tufts, green and compound, or grouped in groups of small leaves united by the same petiole. Small flowers with yellow or reddish petals bloom from green inflorescences, which then turn into small fruits (less than a centimeter long!), however equipped with a wide and 5 mm thick beak.

Cultivation:

The cultivation technique of Commiphora bruceae is similar to that of other Commiphoras.

Exposure to sunlight must be direct and you should never leave them at temperatures below 6-8ºC.

Choose a very well draining but moderately fertile soil, such as, for example, a mix of coarse sand and peat.

Commiphoras should be given water approximately every 3-4 days in Spring and Summer, which is their growing season. With the arrival of Winter it is necessary to reduce water supply until completely suspending it. When the plant wants to tell you that it’s thirsty, the caudex becomes smaller and wrinkled.

Propagation:

As well as through sowing, generally Commiphoras can be propagated also through branch cuttings, but with the help of a specific product to be sprayed on the wound which favors the rooting.

Curiosity:

The name “Commiphora” comes from the Greek kommi, “gum” and “phorus”, hole. Many species of Commiphora in fact form gummy resins such as Mecca balsam and myrrh (extracted from C. myrrha), which are widely used in cosmetics and the production of incense.

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