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!