Commonly known as: Opoponax, Bisabol-myrrh and Sweet myrrh Plant family: Burseraceae Genus: Commiphora Species: Commiphora Erethraea, C. guidottii, C. kataf, C. holtiziana and C. pseudopaoli. Uses: incense, perfume, flavoring agent and medicine Opoponax or sweet myrrh is a cousin of the healing myrrh, Commiphora Myrrha, with a warm and sweet balsamic aroma, similar to honey. It is a natural oleo-gum resin like myrrh and frankincense. The color of its resin is brown; however, the good quality raw botanical resin is dark red. Opoponax has been a component of incense and perfumes since biblical times. Speaking of perfumery in particular, the Opoponax qualities of several Commiphora are widely used, especially in oriental fragrances, to impart sweet balsamic notes. Commpihora Erethraea var. glabrescens engle resin growing in Somalia, Kenya, eastern Ethiopia and southern Arabia and C. guidottii (Chiov) from southern Somalia and Ethiopia are considered the main sources of opoponax from the Burseraceae plant family. Burseraceae trees and shrubs are characterized by resins present in the plant tissue from the canals and vertical ducts of resin in the bark to the veins of the leaves. Other species used as a source of opoponax include C. kataf (Forssk. ) Engl. , C. holtiziana Engl. spp. holtziana and C. pseudopaoli. Image from biolandes. com Speaking further of Commiphora guidottii Chiov. , It is also known as fragrant myrrh. It is a yellowish-red fragrant resin. And from its use of the ancient Romans, they used it as incense in temples. It is quite prevalent in Somalia and adjacent parts of the Ogaden in Ethiopia, and speaking of its export, Somalia is currently considered to be the major exporter of fragrant myrrh. Its shrub or tree can reach 5 m in height and its bark scales greenish or brownish. The leaves are composed of 3 or 5-7 leaflets, 2. 5 x 10 cm long at full maturity and oval to broadly oval in shape. The flowers are cream colored and very small, measuring only a few mm wide at most. The fruit is rounded, about 1 cm in diameter and contains a single stone. EXTRACTION METHOD The extraction of opoponax is done by notching trees just like that of frankincense and myrrh by making incisions in the bark and also by breaking the twigs. A gum oozes from these incisions which then solidifies into brown lumps. Opoponax extract is obtained by solvent extraction or steam distillation from the gum exudate of the bark, which includes all types of extracts, tinctures, concretes, resinoids, ointments, absolutes, rectified extracts etc. While the oil is distilled by dry distillation or steam distillation, flash pasteurization, etc. , it includes all types of essential oils obtained by these methods. Opoponax oil is a material useful in perfumery which is sweet, balsamic and almost effervescent in character. It is mainly used in oriental accords and also gives a sweet boost to chypre scents in the top note. While its absolute is used as a base note. The olfactory difference between myrrh oil and opopanax oil is the slightly sweet animal smell of opopanax oil, similar to vegetable soup, compared to the medicinal freshness of myrrh oil.