Taxonomy, Distribution and Ecology of Boswellia

  • Ahmed Al-Harrasi
  • Abdul Latif Khan
  • Sajjad Asaf
  • Ahmed Al-Rawahi


The Burseraceae family (order Sapindales, clade angiosperms) is an important family in southern Arabia and Africa. Boswellia and Commiphora have historically been the best-known genera for medicinal and commercial reasons. The Boswellia genus has 19 reported species with centres of endism in Yemen and Africa, whereas the rest are distributed across the African, Arabian and Indian continents. The most frequently studied species are B. sacra/carterii, B. serrata, B. papyrifera and B. frereana. Morphologically, the leaf is imparipinnate and subsessile, but subalternate leaflets also occur. All the species lack thorns; they are shrubby, small to medium trees, and the external bark is exfoliated. The flowers are five-lobed with five petals, with internal stamens that are disk-shaped in the centre. The fruits and seeds are similar to capsules, and maturity leads to the shedding of three-to-five-winged pyrenes from the outer layer. These plant species can self-pollinate and are bisexual. Despite the paucity of taxonomic information on the Boswellia genus, this chapter presents some of the relevant literature and the personal experiences of the authors.


Burseraceae Boswellia genus Habitat Morphology Pollination Reproduction 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ahmed Al-Harrasi
    • 1
  • Abdul Latif Khan
    • 1
  • Sajjad Asaf
    • 1
  • Ahmed Al-Rawahi
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NizwaNizwaOman

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