News / frankincense
Boswellia papyrifera, locally known as "Tigray" in Africa, is a truly ancient and special frankincense.
Tigray was one of the most popular frankincense species in the ancient world. From the Egyptians to the Romans, Tigray was accessible and widely used. In fact, it is known as the "church" frankincense. It has a scent exclusive to its species and its lingering aroma is recognized as that typical "church scent." When it is burnt fresh, the scent reminds me of spring and new life. It has a light airy aroma that has many floral notes and gives the feeling of cleanliness and purity.
Throughout history, culture after culture has used it. The Babylonians and Assyrians burned it during religious ceremonies while the ancient Egyptians transported entire boatloads of the resins from the Phoenicians and used it as incense, insect repellent, perfume and salves for wounds and sores. It was also the key ingredient in the embalming process. Certain sections of internal organs were removed and filled with frankincense resin by the Egyptians as a sacred rite and to control the unpleasant scent of the passed on vessel. Egyptian woman used the ashes and charcoal from burned frankincense as the famous eyeliner that Egyptian woman were known for. Large amounts were burned with mummies to assist in the afterlife, as well. Queen Hatshepsut, who once ruled Egypt until her death c.480 B.C. had sacks of frankincense and myrrh trees integrated into the murals decorating the walls of a temple dedicated to her.
Tigray, as well as other species of frankincense and myrrh, were also burned as a biting insect deterrent. This actually controlled the spread of malaria in certain sections of Africa in ancient times. I, myself, use it in the spring and summer to deter pesky mosquitoes that seem to be carrying more and more disease, even here in New England.
I have received a fresh order of high-grade Boswellia papyrifera from Ethiopia recently and if you have not tried it yet, I highly recommend it. It has a wonderful complex aroma and is very affordable. Use it outdoors to deter insects and induce relaxation or indoors to cleanse the air and introduce a fresh spring scent into your home.
Wild Tree Essentials
What's New For 2018...
We are very excited to announce that years of hard work are coming to fruition this year. We finally received our small shipment of new and existing resins from our partner in Somalia. The shipment was delayed for nearly 4 months due to logistical problems from the region of the world in which these rare and ancient frankincense and myrrh resins grow.
Here is some insight into the life of resins we source directly, and the task it is to get a piece of frankincense or myrrh from a tree in Somalia to your burner in America and abroad. As a supplier and passionate user of frankincense and myrrh, I first have to find the very best resins--preferably at the source. This takes time, a lot of time... It took me 3 years to find the right person in Somalia to supply my African resin directly from the source. Three years!!! Why? First, because Somali has not had a government for more than 25 years, so as a result, there are literally no services. Internet is scarce, cell phone coverage scarcer and finding a way to advertise a product to sell to the world is impossible. Somalia's GDP is just under 7 billions dollars a year; in 2017, the United States' GDP was 19.7 trillion, for perspective. So what does all this mean?
When I finally did find a reliable supplier (man inspecting myrrh tree)in Somalia that was knowledgeable and dealt in resins, I first had to vet him. Al Shabaab, Boca haram and ISIS are all very active terrorist groups in the region and I had to make sure I was not inadvertently funding terrorism by buying local resins. So, now we had the supplier who was NOT affiliated with terrorism and we were ready to start buying. Money was sent, product was verified, and now it was time to get resins from a government-less state to America. The closest place that can ship cargo on a commercial airliner is the country of Djibouti. My contact dropped the resins off at the shipping center in Djibouti, where they proceeded to sit for three months because only two planes a month take all the packages out of Djibouti to their destinations. By the the way--the shipping is 300% more expensive than the actual resins. Four months later I got my packages, but they sat in customs for two weeks in Boston because Somalia is on their watch list--or so the 300 pound-solid muscle CBP officer who-could-kill-you-with-one-look told me. Finally, I cleared the packages and we now have the resins for you to enjoy. But wait! Only half of the product was delivered! The other half is lost somewhere in Djibouti , and I undoubtedly will never see it. In fact, I am sure the shipper in Djibouti is burning them right now ;).
I do have a new rare resin from the half-shipment that I am really excited about. White Neglecta! (Pictured below)
I am sure people are familiar with black neglecta, as it is a crowd favorite, but there is such a thing as white neglecta, as well. Although scarce, it comes from the same tree. However, it is rarely seen since the tree mostly produces the black grade. I have it on the website now for you to try. I will also be adding an amazing grade of Gum Arabic (Acacia) and a new species of Myrrh (Hagar) Commiphora erythraea.
As we fine-tune the shipping out of the horn of Africa, we will be getting more resins, new species and much, much larger quantities. In just two weeks, another 100 kilograms will be arriving, and in a month or six weeks, we will have 2000 kilograms. So, the days of "SOLD OUT" will be over; this will be for all the products.
Thank you all for bearing with me... I know in 2017 we were very low on inventory most of the year, but things are changing. We are still low right now but we do have products up, including some of the resins we just received. It seems like a hassle to go through everything I described above, but I really must say that the resins are SO FRESH and high grade, it's like nothing I have ever seen before. Just look at the blue and green freshly harvested Boswellia Carteii resin my friend in Somalia just sent a picture of which is also on its way here. AMAZING!! For my customers and myself, it's only the best directly from the source, as promised.
Please know that Somalia is extremely impoverished. Even when these hard-working people have resins to sell, buyers from the Arabian peninsula (mainly Dubai) go in and offer so little that it barely covers the cost of the harvest. This results in over-harvesting in order for the harvesters to make ends meet and the death of thousands of frankincense and myrrh trees a year in the region. It also keeps the local people poor and stranded from the world. This helps terrorism and extremism, in general, thrive. It's estimated in some parts of Somalia and Africa as a whole that as much as 85% of frankincense trees have been lost due to over-harvesting. I felt it was important to shed some light into this little known part of resins and the often-impoverished places they are endemic to.
So the next time you light your frankincense or use your essential oil from Wild Tree Essentials, just know you are not only fortifying your body and soul, but also supporting the local people that are the stewards of these ancient sacred trees.
~The Frankincense Harvest~
Frankincense is tapped and produced from the Boswellia Tree, which is part of the botanical genus Boswellia. Few people realize that it has 28 accepted species and a few additional species that are currently contested in the scientific community. Boston Commodities Int' carries 9 species and 13 grades of high quality frankincense. Frankincense trees are grown wildly in Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, India, Yemen, Island of Socotra and Oman. Each country produces a different species of the tree, with some overlapping regionally. The climate that is specific to each country or region will determine the quality and properties of the species and grade. The rarest and highest grades of Frankincense, known as Boswellia sacra, comes from Oman due to the unique environment of mountains, semi-desert and ocean. We will mainly reference Boswellia sacra from Oman in this particular newsletter.
Frankincense is collected by “tapping” the bark of the tree with a small knife or ax by cutting off an external strip of bark, which heals 100% after harvest if tapped correctly. The opaque sap that exudes begins to harden upon exposure to air and into tear-shaped droplets which vary in size and color. The tapping continues on the same tree in the same place up to 4-5 times, hence resulting in the varying grades. The main time of year to tap takes place from June to August and is known as the 'Khareef' season, which means autumn in Arabic.
Frankincense quality varies depending on the climate. The summer of 2015 was extremely hot in Oman and good green sacra was tough to find since it was all turning greenish brown from the heat. I had reports that the tops of the frankincense trees were getting scorched from the desert sun and dying. The main collectors of the resins are Bedouins who know the terrain, landscape and customs very well. They have the knowledge and skill to harvest these sacred resins and have done so for thousands of years. Many trees grow in challenging places like the sides of mountains—the middle picture is an extreme example of the Boswellia sacra tree’s adaptability to grow in tough terrain. Once collected, the resins are stored, ready for the merchants to come and collect. The frankincense resin is now ready for the grading process, which is done by spreading all of the collected resins that are mixed during harvest time on sheets to remove the bark and separate the different grades and best quality pieces. After the sorting process is done, the frankincense is ready for the markets and for shipping to wholesale buyers like Boston Commodities Int’.
This year’s harvest is exceptionally good. Some of the highest quality Green Boswellia sacra frankincense I have ever had the pleasure of offering is now in stock. Freshly harvested and offered straight from the frankincense markets of Oman. Enjoy!
Finally the warm weather is starting to creep in after the dark days of winter here in the Northeast. Personally I know that when it's warmer and the sun is shining longer every day that my soul starts to become renewed and re-energized.
I look forward to the warm summer nights, barbecuing on the deck with family and friends, watching my son play in the new grass, eating ice cream, hiking trips to the mountains or long hot beach days with the cool Atlantic Ocean as an oasis.
This time of year I like to burn some of my favorite frankincense resins. I personally find that certain species and grades of frankincense compliment the seasons of the year. This time of year it starts with Boswellia papyrifera, which has a nice light clean Spring scent that has subtle hints of light orange and floral tone that is not over- powering in the least. While this species reminds me most of church ceremonies with the lasting fragrance left behind, it also has a deep natural rejuvenating scent.
Every time that I burn it, and when the more feminine tone hits my senses, I feel as though the magic of Mother Nature just infuses my soul and leaves me feeling renewed and whole again, as if the gentle aroma has cleansed my spirit and washed my worries away.
The distribution of Boswellia papyrifera is prolific throughout the the Tigray Province of northern Ethiopia. This resin is referred to locally as "Betekristian" or "Kerbe Itan" meaning "Church Incense."The trade name is "Tigray Frankincense" and the Amharic name for the tree is "Walya Meker."
Medicinal uses include powerful anti-inflammatory properties that have shown in a recent study to be ten times more anti-inflammatory than the most common species of frankincense resin used, which is Boswellia serrata. It is also used as a rich, natural perfume in indoor and outdoor living spaces. Resins from Africa have been used for thousands of years regionally and are still used by locals in spiritual ceremonies, medicinally and as home incense.
In the New England Spring and Summer evenings biting insects, mainly mosquitoes, are a serious nuisance. Growing up, they were simply a pain but now they seem to carry more and more transferable illnesses to humans every year. After learning years ago that in Africa they specifically use Boswellia neglecta as an insect repellent (I will be doing a newsletter soon on this species) I thought I would try other grades as well.
Boswellia payrifera works very, very well as well. Instead of plastering your family and young ones with conventional insect repellent that contain potentially dangerous chemicals, simply burn some frankincense. B. neglecta works the best, but I find that B. papyrifera has a lighter, more rejuvenating, aroma that is pleasing to all and is a fantastic, effective option for keeping those pesky insects away.
So enjoy the warm weather, burn some high grade frankincense and relax!! You deserve it!
Stay tuned for next post!