Copal Amargo is one of the most wide spread Bursera species throughout Mexico. The appearance of the resin is quite similar to B. microphylla, though the resin in our collection tends to be a lighter shade of yellow. Many stores which specialize in new age and/or occult supplies state B. bipinnata as being the source of the ever elusive "Copal Nego", however we have yet to find conclusive evidence to support this claim. Academic texts and experts in the field describe the resin as light in color as seen here. It is still possible that the species may produce a darker colored resin when under insect attack or once the resin has hardened in the sun for prolonged periods of time. Until conclusive evidence has been presented, Copal Negro will remain a mystery from the fabled past. Copal Amargo remains an important source on incense throughout its native region. Historically, the species is considered the main source of incense used by the classic Maya. The incense, and various others, are employed during the annual Day of the Dead celebration.
The resin produces a smooth smoke when placed upon hot charcoal. It melts and almost completely evaporates, which makes it an excellent candidate for the charcoal method. The aroma is light, resinous and quite similar to B. microphylla. Indeed, the species may very well be traded interchangeably as "Copal Oro" or by other generic terms. It would appear that the resin produces a less sweet aroma than B. microphylla, and with a slight animalistic note that reminds one of the funky undertone of Dryobalanops sumatrensis (without any camphor notes). We recommend using Copal Amargo for power and Copal Oro for aroma. Traditional accounts ascribe narcotic properties to Copal Amargo, which may be wishful thinking by today's standards. One may experience slight perceptual changes if the smoke is inhaled under certain circumstances, with a feeling similar again to D. sumatrensis. The incense is traditionally used to help the shaman prepare his mind and body for entering trance states. Indirect heating of Copal Amargo produces a moderate amount of aroma, however the resin readily melts and may become messy if not contained.
Copal Amargo finds use in traditional medicine, ink production and as a binder and adhesive. The resin may be one of the copals employed by the Aztec during their ritual sacrifices. It is thought that the resin was applied directly into cuts on those who were to be sacrificed as to be directly absorbed into the blood stream. The 16th century priest Father Jose Luis Guerrero suggested that the application of the copal resin in combination with a state of induced hypnosis may have allowed the participants to willing submit to their intended fate. The resin is thought to be useful to “plug” tooth cavities and along with strengthening the teeth in general. Many murals throughout Mesoamerica have been found to contain Bursera bipinnata as a binder that allowed the pigment to adhere to stone surfaces.
As with many of the Bursera species, not enough research has been done in regards to resin identification. While copals are widely used throughout Mesoamerica and beyond, ethnobotanists still have a ways to go before completely understanding the cultural and trade aspects of the various Bursera species.If you have any useful information you wish to share, please feel free to contact us! Comparable to: Agathis dammara, Bursera microphylla
Bursera bipinnata is found extensively throughout the Pacific side of Central America. The species has been identified in the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Durango south into the nations of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Common English Copal Blanco, Gold Copal, Copal Negro (probably inaccurately), White Copal
Latin American tongues Aztec:Teuvetli (suspected, yet not verified) Nahuatl of Ameyaltepec: Kuwxio:tl Istá:k Xkipia Ikopahlo / Kuwxio:tl Istá:k Nahuatl of San Agustín Oapan: Kopalkohtli I:pan Ki:sa I:kopahlo de Sa:ntoh Nahuatl of San Juan Tetelcingo: Kopalkuhtle de Kopalpo:tsahle Tzotzil: "Mud Incense" Zapotec: Hembra Unspecified Latin names:Amargoso, Chichiacle, Chino y Chino Colorado, Chutama, Cimarrón, Copal Amargo, Copalillo, Cristal, Incienso, Jaboncillo, Negro, Santo or de la Virgen, Tetlate, Torote Blanco
Further research is needed to better understand the common nomenclature of this species.
NOTE: The research on Boswellia bipinnata moderate 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.