K'eyi It'an in the local name for standard trade grade resin of Ethiopian Boswellia carteri. The market of Jimma is known to be the main source of the Ethiopian Frankincense trade. These smaller pieces of resin appear opaque, off white to faintly yellow, often coated with a thin layer of powder white resin. While the quality may not rival that of the Omani Hojari varieties, this Frankincense still makes an excellent source of incense as well. Being both affordable and of generally reliable quality, this resin make a good "starters" Frankincense for personal experimentation and mundane incense use.
Beyo is considered to be an exceptional grade of Boswellia carteri originating from Somalia. The resin appears less opaque than most other forms of B. carteri, often with a richer golden hue. It is used extensively in the production of premium Frankincense essential oils. The essential oil is used as a fragrance and fixative throughout the cosmetic industry, especially in detergents, soap, skin products and perfumes.
Frankincense exudate, being a combination of resin and gum, does not smolder perfectly when placed upon a hot charcoal. Frankincense is often described as having lemon and pine notes with a hint of black pepper. Like all varieties of the species, the scent has pronounced cleansing and anti-depressant effects. Though the charcoal method is indeed the most traditional and historically common way of using Frankincense incense, it does requite a bit of vigilance. The resin releases most of the essential oils first and then chars towards the latter half, making it important to remove the black lump from the coal during the burning cycle. We call this the "char-coaled marshmallow" effect. Most species of Boswellia react in a similar manner, though the effect is much more pronounced when smoldering Myrrhs. Beyo smolders a bit cleaner than the K'eyi It'an variety. For optimal aroma-therapeutic purposes, use an indirect heating source such as an electric heater or a hot plate. Not only does this method prevent extreme heat from charring the Frankincense, but it also allows the essential oils to be released with very little smoke.
Egyptian records show that Frankincense was already well established in ancient times. The earliest myths refer to it as the sweat of the gods, fallen to earth. The resin was an integral part of various purification and mortuary rituals, and one of the ingredients used for embalming the dead. It was thought that by setting Frankincense aflame and then dousing it with cow’s milk, one might ward off evil and malevolent forces. Frankincense trees from Punt were brought to Egypt at the request of Queen Hatshepsut around 1,500 BCE, presumably from modern Somalia. In the Roman Catholic mysteries, the aroma of Frankincense is often compare with the "odor of sanctity".
Northern Somalia maintains the largest wild population of Boswellia carteri trees in all of Africa. Somalia has historically be the largest producer of Frankincense. In the region, the resin is distinguished into various forms, mainly Mohor Ad and Mohor Madow. Mohor Madow is often known as being the darker resin harvested in the spring. Some state that the name actually refers to the stands of tree that inhabit the coastal hills near the Gulf of Aden. Mohor Ad is generally considered to be the lighter and higher quality resin harvested in the autumn. However, some sources state that it refers to grouping of trees found farther inland than the coastal variety. The highest quality tears are known as Mohor Lub, which appear white, round, filled with oily resin and in unbroken form. Loosely translated as "male" Frankincense, some theorize that this is because the large lumps hang on the trees like testicles.
Frankincense also finds a variety of uses in traditional African medicine. The resin is commonly used to treat a variety of eye problems in the form of a wash. In Ethiopia, the smoke from the smoldered resin is thought to alleviate tired eyes, and the soot mixed with goat’s bile was used in treatments for blindness. The resin is also used throughout Africa as a diuretic, especially by the Swahili and throughout Tanzania. It is also noted in historical records that excellent torches ware created from a mixture of powdered frankincense, pitch, sulfur, pine sawdust and tow which was then smeared over a wooden stave. The almost inextinguishable incendiary device was apparently used to warfare and raids to burn enemy encampments. The resin is also useful as a varnish for wooden objects.
In regards to the edibility nature of the species, roots of young plants are sometimes peeled and chewed as a food and drink combination. This is especially useful in arid regions where water is scarce. The root is known to provide a thirst-quenching sweet liquid. In times past, Boswellia leaves were fed to weak livestock and those about to give birth. For more severe illness, the leaves were mixed with dried sardines and flour and then fed to camels and goats. Fruits from the trees appear to be favored by various animals.
Practically speaking, the incense smoke is thought to repel mosquitoes and sand flies.
Note: While B. carteri & B. sacra are now considered to be the same species, we have chosen to use the traditional nomenclature referring B. carteri from African origin (Somalia, Ethiopian, etc.) and B. sacra from Omani origin (Hojary).
carteri is found primarily around the
Horn of Africa in sub coastal areas off the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. The trees prefer limestone and dolomite formations
at higher altitudes with low rainfall, though their roots are thought to reach
far below to the water table.
Indeed, our Frankincense tree
has an impressive root structure that was much larger than the aeriel portion
of the tree when we first received it. Though the trees thrive in a naturally
arid environment, higher amounts of water produce lush foliage throughout the
Endemic to Egypt, Eritrea,
Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and possibly other areas of East Africa. The main
African population is found in northern Somalia off the coast of the Gulf of
Common English African Frankincense, Bible frankincense, Frankincense,
Incense, Olibanum, Somali Frankincense
Frankincense names is Asian, Germanic, Hellenic, India, Latin, Middle Eastern, Slavic, Turkic & Uralic tongues... see Boswellia sacra
NOTE: The research on Boswellia carteri is ongoing. We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. Please expect the above information to be revised as more information becomes available. If you have further information about this species or if you wish to submit a correction to this page, please feel free to contact us here
As of 2016, we have decided to majorly simplify the taxonomic structures of the species collection. Due to the numerous systems available, and many species being disputed and in a state of flux, we feel that most of our audience will be better served with a easier to understand condensed listing.