Also because of its wide distribution, even botanists are confused in classifying it: the name “Commiphora habessinica” has in fact many synonyms: be careful not to make mistakes! Here is the list of synonyms:
Commiphora habessinica, sometimes known as Abyssinian Myrrh or “Yemen Myrrh”, is a small spiny tree native to northeastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. In particular it is widespread in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Zambia, Malawi, Oman and Yemen.
Because of its widespread distribution, Commiphora habessinica is not an easy species to distinguish. There are forms of this species typical of arid climate zones and forms present in monsoon climate zones.
The typical shape of arid zones is a lower and thorny shrub, with smaller, less developed leaves, to reduce the evapotranspiring surface, i.e. to minimize the loss of water by evaporation from the leaves, “sweating” less.
The shape present in monsoon climate zones instead seems more trees than shrubs: they have a fully developed trunk and larger leaves.
Like all Commiphoras, C. habessinica is a caudiciform: that is, equipped with a caudex. The caudex is a basal enlarged part of the trunk that is used to store nutrients and water to cope with the dry season or the perpetually dry conditions of its habitat of origin.
When cut, Commiphora habessinica spreads a good smell of resin. Like all Commiphora in fact, C. habessinica produces gummy resins in the woody part. The resin of C. habessinica, in particular, has always had medicinal uses, since ancient times.
Commiphora habessinica grows vigorously and will not give you problems if you put it in a bright position and in a well drained substrate. The main cause of failure in the cultivation of this small tree is the excessive amount of water. Commiphora habessinica should in fact receive water about every 3-4 days in spring and summer, i.e. their growing season, while with the arrival of winter you have to decrease the water supply until it stops completely. Keep it indoors in Winter to avoid frost chocks. This plant is native to warm climate zones and don’t like very much cold, especially if it’s humid.
The propagation of Commiphora habessinica occurs by cutting or even by seed.
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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