Shallaki is the Boswellia species from India, the resin also sometimes being known as Olibanum. It appears in small yellow to orange tears and is very similar to the African varieties of B. carteri, though generally darker and more opaque. Some writers suggest that this species was preferred for incense in Old Testament times. The resin was quite commonly used as incense throughout India, commonly traded as Luban. In modern times the Frankincense was replaced with what seems to be Benzoin of a Styrax species, though still traded as Luban. More research into B. serrata is needed to better understand the historical trade element. Shallaki remains an important incense for religious use throughout India.
The incense smolders in a similar manner of other Frankincense varieties, though generally produces a huskier smoke with a more pronounced "char-coaled marshmallow" effect. The aroma of Shallaki is deeper and produces citrus orange notes when compared with the African varieties that are often described as producing a sweet, lemon-like fragrance. This Frankincense lends itself to excellent outdoor use. Indirect heating produces a richer, purer, and somewhat deep aroma.
Medicinally, B. serrata has been used for quite some time in Ayurvedic medicine. Anti-cancer properties have been noted in root extracts and various other preparations of the plant.Extracts have shown CNS-depressant activity attributing sedative and anti-anxiety effects. Shallaki is widely used for reducing joint pains and inflammation. This is especially useful for osteoarthritis of the knees. The gum-resin has been shown to have analgesic, anti-inflammatory, aperients, demulcent, diuretic, emmenagogue, restorative, refrigerant, and sedative effects. It is used in the treatment of chronic lung diseases, diarrhea, dysentery, pulmonary diseases, menorrhea, dysmenorrhoea, gonorrhea, liver disorders, piles, and syphilis. The phytosterols contained in the gum-resin are thought to reduce cholesterol in the blood. Boils, carbuncles, indolent swellings, ringworm and ulcers are treated with a paste made of B. serrata gum-resin and coconut oil or lime juice. B. serrata is also used in the product known as Boswelox, though its “anti-wrinkle” claims have come under scrutiny.
Most parts of the plant have been used as a source of nourishment for humans and animals alike. Various species of bees have been known to collect the resin as well, presumably for use in the construction of their hives. Other uses for B. serrata wood include furniture production and other small wood objects, for paper and cord production, and for the production of charcoal.
Kingdom: Group: Family: Genus: Species:
Plantae Angiosperms Burseraceae Boswellia serrata
Libanotus asiaticus (more research needed)
Libanus thuriferus (more research needed)
Originally described by:
William Roxburgh (1751-1815)
Boswellia serrata is mainly found in the semi-arid tropical
deciduous forests of the Western Ghats & Eastern Ghats. The species is
found growing on slopes and ridges in poor and shallow soils.
Endemic to India and Pakistan. The species has been
identified in the state of
Maharashtra; the Karnataka state districts of Chikmagalur, Coorg,
Uttara Kanara, and Shimoga; the Kerala state district of Idukki; the Tamil Nadu
state districts of Coimbatore, Dharmapuri, Dindigul, Salem, Tiruchchirappalli,
Tiruvannamalai, and Viluppuram; and the Punjab province in Pakistan.
Common English Indian Frankincense, Indian Olibanum
NOTE: The research on Boswellia serrata 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.