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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Family: Burseraceae (frankincense and myrrh family)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Rosids > Eurosid II > Order: Sapindales

About 16 genera and 500 species (mainly tropics), with one genus, Commiphora, and 40 species native to southern Africa and a further genus and species cultivated in the region.

Genera native to southern Africa

List from Plants of Southern Africa - an Online Checklist (SANBI).


About 200 species (mainly Africa but also Arabian Peninsula and India), with 40 species native to southern Africa.

Other genera, cultivated in southern Africa

List from Glen (2002).


The Incense tree Canarium schweinfurthii originates from tropical Africa and is cultivated in southern Africa.  


Species from which perfumes are derived

  • Boswellia carteri (frankincense, from Somalia)
  • Commiphora abyssinica, C. molmol and some other species (myrrh, used in incense and perfumes; cultivated in Arabia and Ethiopia)