balm of Gilead
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balm of Gilead(gĭl`ēəd), name for several plants belonging to different taxonomic families. The historic Old World balm of Gilead, or Mecca balsam, is a small evergreen tree (Commiphora gileadensis, also once called C. opobalsamum) of the family Burseraceae (incense-treeincense-tree,
common name for members of the Burseraceae, a family of sometimes deciduous shrubs and large trees found chiefly in tropical America and NE Africa. The name derives from the characteristic aromatic oils or resins that occur in all parts of the plant.
..... Click the link for more information. family) native to Africa and Asia and the source of the commercial balm of Gilead; it is referred to in the Bible in Jer. 8.22. The Ishmaelites from Gilead were bearing balm when they bought Joseph from his brothers. Balm of Gilead is still in high repute for healing in some countries.
The American balm of Gilead is a hybrid species of poplar (Populus × jackii) of the family Salicaceae (willowwillow,
common name for some members of the Salicaceae, a family of deciduous trees and shrubs of worldwide distribution, especially abundant from north temperate to arctic areas.
..... Click the link for more information. family) which has large balsamic and fragrant buds. The tree occurs in the wild where the ranges of its parents, the balsam poplar (P. balsamifera) and eastern cottonwood (P. deltoides), overlap, and was formerly a favorite dooryard tree of the northern states. The buds were used in domestic medicine. The balsam poplar has also been called balm of Gilead and tacamahac.
The name balm of Gilead has also been used for the balsam fir and for a herbaceous aromatic, shrubby plant (Dracocephalum canariense or Cedronella canariensis) of the family Labiatae (mintmint,
in botany, common name for members of the Labiatae, a large family of chiefly annual or perennial herbs. Several species are shrubby or climbing forms or, rarely, small trees.
..... Click the link for more information. family) native to the Canary Islands and cultivated in parts of the United States.
Balm of Gilead
(also Mecca balsam), a viscous yellow fluid with a pleasant odor and a bitter taste. It is obtained from the bark of the balsam tree Commiphora opobalsamum, which is native to southwestern Arabia and Somalia. Balm of Gilead is produced by boiling the young branches in water. It contains essential oils and resins, which are either soluble or insoluble in alcohol. Balm of Gilead is used in the manufacture of perfume. Formerly it was used in religious rites and in medicine as an unguent.