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Elemi refers to the sap of different tree species, which is used in medicine and technology. Sometimes the term is also used to describe the trees themselves.

Dried Elemi


The origin of the term is given differently, on the one hand from Arabic al-lāmi (the shiny), on the other hand from Greek ἐναίμον enhaimon (hemostatic). The latter refers to the use of the resin from Boswellia frereanafrankincense (tree) , as a hemostatic drug in antiquity , which is mentioned by Pliny the Elder , who cites a drug of this name that is said to contain the tears of the Arabian olive tree . The Elemi plant mentioned by Theophrast is also assigned to this species. After the term hardly appeared in the Middle Ages , it was increasingly used from the 16th and 17th centuries for resins from Central and South America (Brazilian Elemi), but also for resins from the Pacific region, which were imported into Europe during this period referred to by this term. Today it is used almost exclusively for the so-called "Manilaelemi".


as well as of various other species such as Bursera simaruba , Bursera linanoe , Dacryodes excelsa , Dacryodes edulis , or Okumé Elemi Aucoumea klaineana and others.


After cutting the tree bark, the different tree species secrete a whitish or light yellow to greenish, sticky, cloudy and pleasantly smelling resin, which hardens in contact with the air. As it ages, it becomes darker, tougher, with a glassy break. It consists of essential oils, resin alcohols, resens, elemic acids and some bitter substances. A distinction is made between soft and inferior, hard elemi that have dried up on the trees.

On the one hand, the resin is directly smoked incense , on the other hand, the Elemi oil is obtained from it by steam distillation . This mainly contains: Terpineol , Elemicin , Elemol , Dipenten , Phellandren and Limonene . The scent is woody and lemony due to the lime content, but also has a note of fennel .

Elemi oil was used for embalming in ancient Egypt . In Europe it has been widely used since the 16th century as a wound healing agent, incense and for the preparation of ointments .

Nowadays it is used in the manufacture of oil varnishes , soaps and varnishes and as a substitute for watercolors . In perfumery , Elemi is often used in fougère and conifer compositions.

In the past, the Elemi resin was often used in the Roman Catholic Church as a substitute for olibanum in church incense .

Individual evidence

  1. Elemi . In: Encyclopædia Britannica . 11th edition. tape 9 : Edwardes - Evangelical Association . London 1910, p. 259 (English, full text [ Wikisource ]).
  2. a b c d e Alexander Tschirch , Erich Stock: Die Harze. 2nd volume 1st half. 3. Edition. Bornträger, 1935, pp. 265-267.
  3. John S. Mills, Raymond White: The organic chemistry of museum objects. Second edition. Butterworth-Heinemann, 1999, ISBN 978-0-7506-4693-2 , p. 108.
  4. a b c W. Blaschek, R. Hansel u. a .: Hager's Handbook of Pharmaceutical Practice. Sequel 2: Drug A-K . Springer, 1998, ISBN 3-540-52688-9 , pp. 272 ​​f.
  5. Cheryll Williams: Medicinal Plants in Australia. Volume 2: Gums, Resins, Tannin and Essential Oils . Rosenberg, 2011, ISBN 978-1-877058-94-3 , p. 103.
  6. ^ Jean Langenheim: Plant Resins. Timber Press, 2003, ISBN 978-0-88192-574-6 , p. 357. Quoted in: J. De la Cruz-Cañizares, MT Doménech-Carbó, JV Gimeno-Adelantado, R. Mateo-Castro, F. Bosch -Reig: Study of Burseraceae resins used in binding media and varnishes from artworks by gas chromatography – mass spectrometry and pyrolysis-gas chromatography – mass spectrometry. In: Journal of Chromatography A . 1093 (1-2), 2005, pp. 177-194, doi: 10.1016 / j.chroma.2005.07.058 , PMID 16233883 .
  7. ^ Jean Langenheim: Plant Resins. 2003.
  8. Okumé on materialarchiv.ch, accessed on January 3, 2017.
  9. Felix Bachmair: Antimicrobial effect of selected resins on airborne germs. Diploma thesis, Vienna 2013, pp. 20–26, doi: 10.25365 / thesis.30090 .
  10. ^ Elemi (canarium luzonicum). Retrieved December 5, 2015 .