Commiphora

Family: Burseraceae
Habitat: Africa, Arabia, India and Pakistan.
Cultivation: Depends on the species!
Curiosity: Their name 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.

KEY FEATURES

The Commiphora genus includes about two hundred species of shrubs and real trees spread over a vast area of Africa, Arabia, India and Pakistan.

Their name 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.

They are plants with a woody stem, with a bark that is often pale and tending to silver, with small deciduous, rounded or lobed leaves, which sprout in tufts from the branches. They are often equipped with thorns, which mainly serve as a defense from the local fauna.

Many of these plants have developed a large caudex at the base of the trunk, in order to survive the hottest periods.

The caudex is an enlargement of the root or the basal part of the stem which serves to conserve nutrients and water: a remarkable evolutionary device that makes plants much more resistant to adversity!

The commercial interest for Commiphoras derives from the fact that scented resins are extracted from many of these species which are widely used in the production of incense, balms and more generally perfumery products. The most famous plant in this sense is myrrh, which in nature grows to become a sapling up to three to four meters high.
In the world of ornamental plants, they are popular for their ability to be used as bonsai. The large caudex is perfect, in fact, to create the effect of a tree trunk, surmounted by branches.

TIPS FOR GROWING

It is difficult to give univocal indications for the cultivation of plants belonging to this genus, as it is a very large group of plants and which contains very different species in terms of size and area of origin. In general, however, some common features can be found between all species.

  • Exposure to sunlight must be direct. You should never leave them at temperatures below 6-8ÂșC, you must choose a very well draining but moderately fertile soil, such as, for example, a mix of coarse sand and peat.
  • Commiphora 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.
  • The methods of fertilization and repotting it’s different depending on the species.

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