Opopanax chironium

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Opopanax chironium
Apiaceae - Opopanax chironium.JPG
Plant of Opopanax chironium
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Apiales
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Opopanax
Species: O. chironium
Binomial name
Opopanax chironium
W.D.J.Koch
Synonyms[1]
  • Dorema chironia (L.) M.Hiroe
  • Laserpitium chironium L.
  • Maspeton chironium (L.) Raf.
  • Opopanax bulgaricus Velen.

Opopanax chironium, common name Hercules-all-heal,[2] also known as sweet myrrh[3] or bisabol myrrh,[3] is a herb belonging to the family Apiaceae.

Subspecies[edit]

  • Opopanax chironium subsp. chironium
  • Opopanax chironium subsp. bulgaricum (Vel.) N.Andreev[4]

Description[edit]

Opopanax chironium grows 1–3 metres (3 ft 3 in–9 ft 10 in) high.[3] This perennial herb has a branching stem, thick and rough close to the base. Leaves are serrate, pinnate, with long petioles. It produces a large, flat, yellow inflorescence at the top of the branches.[5][6]

Uses[edit]

This plant is used in the production of certain perfumes. A consumable resin known as opopanax can be extracted from the Opopanax plant by cutting at the base of a stem and sun-drying the juice that flows out. Though people often find the taste acrid and bitter, the highly flammable resin can be burned as incense to produce a scent somewhat like balsam or lavender.[3]

Flowers of Opopanax chironium

The resin has been used in the treatment of spasms,[5] and, before that, as an emmenagogue, in the treatment of asthma, chronic visceral infections, hysteria and hypochondria.[3] Opopanax resin is most frequently sold in dried irregular pieces, though tear-shaped gems are not uncommon.[5]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The plant thrives in warm climates like Iran, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Somalia, but also grows in cooler climates.[2][5] Some view opopanax grown in cooler climates as being of inferior quality.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". 
  2. ^ a b "Opopanax chironium". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 18 July 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Scents of Earth Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "fc" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  4. ^ Catalogue of Life
  5. ^ a b c d Botanical
  6. ^ Enciclopedia Treccani
  • Tutin, T. G. et al., eds. 1964–1980. Flora Europaea.