a guest post by Matthew of EAIncense.com
The various species of Myrrhs are members of the Burseraceae family, also known as the Torchwood or Incense Tree family. This family also consists of members from the Boswellia (Frankincense), Bursera (Copal), Canarium (Damar), and Protium (Copal) genus.
The members of the Commiphora genus are found in hot and dry regions through out Africa, Arabia and the Indian subcontinent. These shrubs and medium sized succulent trees have long provided fragrant resins that are repeatedly mentioned in the Bible and other Classical texts of the ancient world.
A small sampling of Commiphora resins from right to left...
One of the various resins known as Opoponax and Sweet Myrrh. Opoponax is referred to in various classical texts. It is still an important source of incense, perfume and medicine. This resin has a nice semi-spicy apricot-like aroma when heated indirectly.
(2) Omumbungu ~ Commiphora krauselliana (Namibia)
Known as the Tree of the Hyena to the Himba people. Due to it's unusual scent, the Himba believe it is not suitable for use as an aromatic. Hyenas are traditionally associated with evil and criminal activities throughout Africa and much of the old world. Omumbungu is reminiscent of Omumbiri, however with a resinous and dry scent containing notes of citrus, paraffin wax and alcohol.
(3) Myrrhor ~ Commiphora molmol (Somalia)
Considered a synonym for Commiphora myrrha, Somalia produces the best Myrrh in Africa. Generally, C. molmol is considered the African variety, while C. myrrha is normally used for member of the species of Arabian origin. Myrrh has been used for incense, perfume, medicine and embalming since ancient times. The aroma of Myrrh is very deep and quite complex, with spicy and somewhat fruity notes.
(4) Guggul ~ Commiphora mukul (India)
Also an synonym for Commiphora wightii, known as Indian Bdellium and Mukul Myrrh. Guggul has been used in Eastern medicine for thousands of years as a remedy for arthritis, obesity and bad cholesterol. This species of myrrh is an important smudging and cleansing incense in India and Pakistan. When heated, the scent has a pronounced calming effect on the mind. The aroma of Guggul is quite earthy, with mossy and somewhat skunk-y notes.
(5) Myrrh ~ Commiphora myrrha (Yemen)
Prized throughout the ancient world, Arabian Myrrh was worth more than the metal Gold at times. The resin was burned in excess at Roman funerals, one of the kingly gifts to the infant Jesus, and used extensively as an incense and embalming ingredient in classical Egypt. While the scent is the same as Somalian Myrrhor, the essential oils are more concentrated making for a more pronounced and superior aroma.
(6) Omumgorwa ~ Commiphora tenuipetiolata (Namibia)
This is a unique species of Myrrh traditionally harvested by the Himba people. The resin is commonly used for washing clothing and fabric. It is also noted that it can be used as a rejuvenating skin cleanser. Raw, the resin has a fruity scent somewhat similar to dates or raisins. However, once it is heated, the aroma changes to give off odd spicy scents that are somewhat reminiscent of cumin and chili powder.
(7) Omumbiri ~ Commiphora wildii (Namibia)
This resin is one of the main species of Myrrh collected and employed by the Himba people.
The resin is used as a traditional perfume and makes for a pleasing and unique incense. Omumbiri has a unique aroma that is similar to Gum Arabic (Acacia senegal) when heated, with the addition of pronounced notes of citrus and pine.
Ethereal Aromas Incense Company is pleased to be able to provide these incenses to collectors of rare aromatics. View our selection of resins on Etsy. Can we send you an email to let you know about new incense resins? Join our Ink 'n Scents email list!