SINET: Ethiopian Journal of Science

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Review Article: Frankincense and myrrh resources of Ethiopia: I distribution, production, opportunities for dryland development and research needs

Mulugeta Leminih, Demel Teketay


Boswellia and Commiphora species are economically and ecologically important plant species found mainly in the horn of Africa particularly in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya. They are the source of aromatic gum resins, frankincense and myrrh. Frankincense and myrrh have been valued for their sacred and ceremonial uses as well as in medicinal contexts since several millennia. Still today, they are widely used as raw materials in several industries such as pharmacology, food, beverage, flavouring, liqueurs, cosmetics, detergents, creams and perfumery, paints, adhesive and dye manufacturing. Ethiopia is one of tropical African countries with large potentials of frankincense and myrrh resources and has been known as one of the major producers. Nevertheless, little efforts have been made at national level to explore the vegetation resources that provide these valuable products. Consequently, little is written and known about their distribution, potential production, development opportunities and other relevant issues. This paper presents a review that covers several aspects of these valuable resources including the economic and ecological opportunities they may render for accelerated development and ecological conservation in the vast dry lands of the country.

Key words/phrases: Boswellia, Commiphora, ecological opportunity, economic opportunity, oleo-gum resins, olibanum

SINET: Ethiop. J. Sci Vol.26(1) 2003: 63-72

AJOL African Journals Online