Balm of Gilead
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Balm of Gilead was originally a healing compound (a balm) made from the resinous gum of a bush (Commiphora opobalsamum) which grew plentifully in the area of Gilead. Its dried fruit was called Carpobalsamum, and the dried twigs Xylobalsamum. This compound was exported widely. The Balm of Gilead is mentioned several times in the Bible. More recently, a similar product is made from the resinous gum of the North American Balm of Gilead tree (Populus × jackii) tree or from related species such as the balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera),[unreliable source?] which is also sometimes called Balm of Gilead.
Populus × jackii, also known as P. × gileadensis, is the hybrid between balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera) and the eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides), occurring occasionally where the two parental species' ranges overlap. This hybrid is also sometimes planted as a shade tree, and occasionally escapes from cultivation. P. balsamifera is also known as P. tacamahaca and P. trichocarpa, and is widespread in boreal North America. The name Populus candicans has been variously used for either P. balsamifera or P. × jackii; it is currently considered a synonym of P. balsamifera.
The balm takes its name from Jeremiah 8:22: "Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?" The balm is also mentioned in Genesis 37, referring to the balm or balsam carried from Gilead by the caravan of merchants to whom Joseph was sold by his brothers. In all likelihood, this ancient trade item was what is now known as Balsam of Mecca, produced from the tree Commiphora gileadensis (syn. C. opobalsamum), native to southern Arabia, a relative of the source of myrrh.
- Werthner, William B. (1935). Some American Trees: An intimate study of native Ohio trees. New York: The Macmillan Company. pp. xviii + 398 pp.
SEPASAL (Database of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew (UK) = http://www.kew.org/ceb/sepasal/) Felter, HW Lloyd Ju. King's American Dispensatory (18th edition). Sandy/Eclectic Medical Publications; 1898 
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