Origin: Africa and Arabian peninsula
Scientific Name: Commiphora myrrha
Folk Names: Common myrrh, gum myrrh, mur, myrrha, smyrna, stacte
Parts used: Gum resin
Ancient Greece: Myrrha (or Smyrna) was a Cyprian princess who seduced her father and fell pregnant. The back-story varies in different tellings, and some versions have this orchestrated by Aphrodite after Myrrha’s mother stated her daughter was more beautiful than the goddess. After her identity was realised, Myrrha spent 9 months walking exiled/being chased through the desert. Desperate for a solution, she cried to the gods and they took pity on her and transformed her into the myrrh tree, with its sap representing her tears. Her baby Adonis was then born from the tree.
- Burn myrrh to purify and consecrate an area, usually mixed with frankincense, creating “Church incense”.
- Add myrrh to other herbs to boost their power.
Part Used: Resin
Extraction Method: Steam distillation
Scent Type: Resinous
Perfume Note: Base
Scent Description: Rich, woody, earthy, bitter-spicy
- Avoid during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
Note: This information is provided for informational purposes only, do not use any plants medicinally without consulting with an appropriate medical professional.
- Myrrh may interact with some diabetes or anticoagulant medications. This is less likely if it’s not being consumed, but may be worth being aware of.
- Not safe for use during pregnancy, as Myrrh can stimulate menstruation. While consumption is the primary concern, it’s not known whether topical use of Myrrh might be enough to pose a risk to pregnancy.
- Topical applications can cause a rash in some people.
Myrrh has been a common ingredient in perfumery and as incense for millennia, as well being used to make sweets and chewing gums.
While the resin of a number of Commiphora species, Commiphora myrrha is the most common.
Plant Height: 1m-4m
Leaves: Pinnate/compound leaves made of 3 1cm-long oblong/oval leaflets
Flowers: Yellow-red, with 4 narrow, oval petals
Fruit: Small-ish, dark red drupes
Etymology: From the semitic םרר (mrr), meaning ‘bitter’.