WHAT IS FRANKINCENSE?
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Most of us have heard of frankincense, even if it is only within the context of the Nativity. As you will no doubt remember, frankincense was one of the trinity of gifts given to Mary and Joseph by the wise men in celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
However, what is it and where does frankincense come from?
Frankincense begins its journey by being tapped from the very scraggly but hardy Boswellia tree. This is achieved by slashing the bark and allowing the exuded resins to bleed out and harden. These hardened resins are known as tears. There are numerous species and varieties of frankincense trees, each producing a slightly different type of resin. Differences in the soil and local climate will create even more diversity of the resin, even within the same species.
The trees will begin to produce their resin when they are about 8 to 10 years old. Tapping the tree for resin is done 2 to 3 times a year with the final taps producing the best tears due to their higher aromatic terpene, sesquiterpene and diterpene content. Generally speaking, the more opaque resins are the best quality. Dhofari frankincense (from Boswellia sacra) is said to be the best in the world, although fine resin is also produced more extensively in Yemen and along the northern coast of Somalia, from which the Roman Catholic Church draws its supplies.
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Photos care of http://www.dgaryyoung.com/blog/2010/12/ and http://www.scientificamerican.com/
Based on an article by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankincense