Canarium luzonicum

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Canarium luzonicum
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Burseraceae
Genus: Canarium
C. luzonicum
Binomial name
Canarium luzonicum

Canarium luzonicum, commonly known as elemi, is a tree native to the Philippines. The oleoresin harvested from it is also known as elemi.



Canarium luzonicum is a large evergreen tree growing to a maximum height of about 30 m (100 ft). The leaves are alternate and are pinnate. Clusters of flowers, which are pollinated by insects, are followed by thick-shelled nuts with edible kernels.[3][4]


Elemi (Canarium luzonicum) essential oil in clear glass vial
Elemicin is named after Canarium luzonicum, one of the vernacular names of which is elemi.

Elemi resin is a pale yellow substance, of honey-like consistency. Aromatic elemi oil is steam distilled from the resin. It is a fragrant resin with a sharp pine and lemon-like scent. One of the resin components is called amyrin.[3]

Elemi resin is chiefly used commercially in varnishes and lacquers, and certain printing inks. It is used as a herbal medicine to treat bronchitis, catarrh, extreme coughing, mature skin, scars, stress, and wounds.[3] The constituents include phellandrene, limonene, elemol, elemicin, terpineol, carvone, and terpinolene.

The seed kernels are used for food, both raw and cooked. An edible oil can be extracted from the seeds, and the pulp can be stewed but is somewhat insipid. The young shoots can be boiled and eaten as a vegetable.[3]

History of the name[edit]

The word elemi has been used at various times to denote different resins. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the term usually denoted a resin from trees of the genus Icica in Brazil, and before that it meant the resin derived from Boswellia frereana. The word, like the older term animi, appears to have been derived from enhaemon (εναιμον): the name of a styptic medicine said by Pliny to contain tears exuded by the olive tree of Arabia.[5]

"The name Elemi is derived from an Arabic phrase meaning 'above and below', an abbreviation of 'As above, so below' and this tells us something about its action on the emotional and spiritual planes."[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Energy Development Corporation (EDC) (2020). "Canarium luzonicum". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2020. Retrieved 27 July 2020.)
  2. ^ Kew,Plants of the World Online Retrieved at 12.29 on 19/7/20
  3. ^ a b c d "Canarium luzonicum - (Blume) A.Gray". Plants For A Future. Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  4. ^ Leenhouts, P. W.; Kalkman, C.; Lam, H. J. (March 1956). "Canarium (Burseraceae)" (Digitised, online). Flora Malesiana. Series I, Spermatophyta : Flowering Plants. 5. Leiden, The Netherlands: Rijksherbarium / Hortus Botanicus, Leiden University. pp. 249–296.
  5. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Elemi". Encyclopædia Britannica. 9 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 259.
  6. ^ Davis, Patricia. Aromatherapy A-Z. Revised and Enlarged Edition. Book Production Consultants plc, Cambridge. The C.W. Daniel Company Limited. 1998
  • J. Lawless, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils (Rockport, MA: Element Books, 1995), 59-67.
  • R. Tisserand, Essential Oil Safety (United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone, 1995), 135.