Commiphora abyssinica, Commiphora habessinica, Myrrh Tree,
Abyssinian myrrh, Arabian myrrh, Yemen myrrh,
Hebrew: מור אפריקאי, Arabic: البلسان الحبشي

Scientific name:  Commiphora abyssinica (O. Berg) Engl., orth. var.
Synonym name:  Commiphora habessinica (O. Berg) Engl., Commiphora madagascarensis Jacq.,
Balsamodendrum habessinicum O. Berg
Common name:  Myrrh Tree, Abyssinian myrrh, Arabian myrrh, Yemen myrrh
Hebrew name:  מור אפריקאי
Arabic name:  البلسان الحبشي
Plant Family:  Burseraceae, Torchwood family, frankincense and myrrh family, the incense tree family

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Location: Neot Kedumim

Life form:  Woody perennial trees or shrubs
Stems:  Sturdy, spiny, glabrous, short trunk, up to 4 m tall; outer bark silvery, whitish, reddish or bluish grey, peeling in large or small papery flakes from the greener under-bark; knotted spiny branches, branchlets stand out at right-angles, ending in a sharp spine; the stem discharges a hardly scented, viscid, translucent yellowish gum-resin; yellowish-white wood
Leaves:  1-foliolate or 3-foliolate with 2 much smaller lateral leaflets
Flowers:  Tiny and inconspicuous flowers in subsessile clusters on short side-shoots or spines
Fruits / pods:  Fruits 1-2 on jointed stalks, ovoid, flattened and beaked 2-4 mm long; seed smooth with gentle swellings
Distribution:  Neot Kedumim, the Biblical Landscape Reserve
Chorotype:   Saharo-Arabian - Sudanian

פרחים וצמחי בר בארץ ישראל, מור אפריקאי
Location: Neot Kedumim

Derivation of the botanical name:
Commiphora, Greek kommi, gum; phoros, carrier.
habessinica, Abyssinian.
Balsamodendrum, balsamon, βάλσαμον, gum of the balsam tree; from the Hebrew word basam, perfume, spice, related to Aramaicbusma, Arabic basham "balsam, spice, perfume; dendron δενδρον, ου, tree.
myrrh, Hebrew, môr; Arabic, murr, meaning "bitter"; means that which is bitter.
  • The standard author abbreviation O.Berg is used to indicate Otto Karl Berg (1815 – 1866), a German botanist.
  • The standard author abbreviation Engl. is used to indicate Heinrich Gustav Adolf Engler (1844 – 1930), a German botanist.
  • The standard author abbreviation Jacq. is used to indicate Nikolaus Joseph von Jacquin (1727 – 1817), a Dutch scientist who studied medicine, chemistry and botany.
Myrrh was used as a wine preservative in the ancient world. It was an important ingredient in the Egyptian embalming process of 2000 BCE, and ancient Egyptian women burned Myrrh pellets to rid their homes of fleas. Myrrh was also used as an aromatic for perfumes, funerals, and insect repellents.
  • According to Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BCE – 17/18 CE), known as Ovid, a Roman poet, Myrrha (Greek: Μύρρα), also known as Smyrna (Greek: Σμύρνα), impelled by an unnatural lust for her own father, Cinyras, slept with him, and became pregnant. After discovering her identity, Cinyras draws his sword and pursues Myrrha. She flees across Arabia and, after nine months, turns to the gods for help. They take pity on Myrrha and transform her into a myrrh-tree. While in plant form, Myrrha gives birth to Adonis. According to legend, the aromatic exudings of the myrrh-tree are Myrrha's tears.
  • The Genus Commiphora comprises more than 200 species, all native to Africa, Arabia, Madagascar and India.
  • Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., 1922 describes: Myrrha (Commiphora spp.) is the gumresin obtained from one or more varieties of Commiphora. Region of Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, Africa, and Arabia. Myrrh, Gum Myrrh, a brownishyellow or reddishbrown tears or masses, covered with a brownishyellow dust; taste: bitter, acrid, and aromatic; odor: balsamic. Soluble in alcohol; forms an emulsion with water.
  • The Bible describes myrrh, the most precious and popular resin, as an ingredient of holy ointments and as a cosmetic.

  • Bible Resources:
    1. Genesis 37:25
      As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.
    2. Genesis 43:11
      Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift—a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds.
    3. Exodus 30:23
      “Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant calamus,
    4. Esther 2:12
      Before a young woman’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics.
    5. Psalm 45:8
      All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia; from palaces adorned with ivory the music of the strings makes you glad.
    6. Proverbs 7:17
      I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.
    7. Song of Solomon 1:13
      My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh resting between my breasts.
    8. Song of Solomon 3:6
      Who is this coming up from the wilderness like a column of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and incense made from all the spices of the merchant?
    9. Song of Solomon 4:6
      Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, I will go to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of incense.
    10. Song of Solomon 4:14
      nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with every kind of incense tree, with myrrh and aloes and all the finest spices.)
    11. Song of Solomon 5:1
      He I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice. I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey; I have drunk my wine and my milk. FriendsEat, friends, and drink; drink your fill of love.
    12. Song of Solomon 5:5
      I arose to open for my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with flowing myrrh, on the handles of the bolt.
    13. Song of Solomon 5:13
      His cheeks are like beds of spice yielding perfume. His lips are like lilies dripping with myrrh.
    14. Matthew 2:11
      On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.)
    15. Mark 15:23
      Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.
    16. John 19:39
      He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.)
    17. Revelation 18:13
      cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves.

    Commiphora abyssinica, Commiphora habessinica, Myrrh Tree, Abyssinian myrrh, Arabian myrrh, Yemen myrrh, מור אפריקאי
    Location: Neot Kedumim

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