Commiphora edulis

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Local names:
Somali (dibirkh,dabarrik), Swahili (mwemaya-nguzo,mchongoma)

Commiphora edulis is a small tree 2-10 m tall; bark smooth, pale grey; slash dull red or layered and orange, rather rough; exudate faintly scented, scanty but sometimes plenty; young stems densely pubescent, fluted, 3-4 mm in diameter.

Leaves densely pubescent beneath, up to 22 cm long, 3-11 foliolate; leaflets up to 7 cm long, 3 cm wide on petiolules under 1.5 mm long.

Inflorescence densely pubescent, flowers greenish yellow, fragrant, appearing just before or with young leaves. Male inflorescence spiciform with clusters of cymes on an axis up to 15 cm long including a peduncle up to 35 mm long; bracts linear-lanceolate, up to 4 mm; pedicels up to 3 mm long; receptacle cup-shaped; calyx densely pubescent, divided halfway into acute ovate lobes; petals oblong, glabrous, 4-5 mm long. Female inflorescence much shorter, under 25 mm long. 

Fruit elliptic-ovoid, pubescent, 4-seeded.

Three subspecies; edulis, holosericea and boiviniana are recognized in the Flora of Tropical East Africa, the specific epithet edulis is in reference to its edible fruits.


C. edulis is a variable plant commonly occurring in Acacia-Commiphora bushland (deciduous bushland).

Native range
Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia

C. edulis is a variable plant commonly occurring in Acacia-Commiphora bushland (deciduous bushland).

C. edulis propagates naturally by seed.

Erosion control:  The tree protects surrounding soil from erosion.

  Fruits of subsp. holosericea are edible.

Foliage browsed by goats.

C. edulis is a good source of firewood.

Shade or shelter:  The tree offers shade.

Medicine:  Bark infusion used to treat malaria. The roots, leaves and stem are used as remedy for stomach ache, menstrual problems and illnesses caused by spirits.

Gum or resin:  Exudate from stem cuts is fairly scented, sparse or sometimes copious and milky. Sap used as glue for attaching feathers on to arrows.

Soil improver:  Leaf litter from this deciduous tree enhances soil fertility.

Other services:  Branches of ssp. boiviniana are used for making fire by friction.