Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Myrrh Gum
Commiphora myrrha

Family: Burseraceae
Genus: Commiphora (kom-MEE-for-uh) (Info)
Species: myrrha

Synonym:Balsamodendron myrrha

22 members have or want this plant for trade.

Alpines and Rock Gardens

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)
15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Blooms repeatedly


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:
Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry

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to view:

By Pugmeister
Thumbnail #1 of Commiphora myrrha by Pugmeister

By Pugmeister
Thumbnail #2 of Commiphora myrrha by Pugmeister


1 positive
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Pugmeister On Feb 7, 2013, Pugmeister from Los Angeles, CA wrote:

Re: seed germination. 9 seeds out of ten float, in my experience. Floaters will not germinate. They are generally hollow. The academic papers I have read concerning Commiphora report a 1.8% to 8 % germination rate. 8% seems high to me. I have germinated a half dozen seeds this spring. Also, the first 2 or 3 sets of seedling leaves are not like the mature tree's leaves. They look bit like antlers.

While I am sure that full sun is ideal, my Commiphora myrhha tree, grows happily in morning sun in West Hollywood, California. It is somewhat shaded by a Caribbean Copper Plant Tree. The mryhh tree is 6 or 7 years old Propogation from a cutting is easy. Just make sure the cutting is at least one foot long. Do this in Spring so that the plant will have a long growing season before winter dormancy. Use a well draining cactus mix. Water sparingly. I stick the cutting in a planter where I raise succulents. I then ignore it. A few months later, there is new growth, from what looked like a dead branch stuck in the ground.

One of the seeds I collected a month ago, scarified, and placed in a small pot beside various cuttings on a heated germination tray, recently germinated, and is growing nicely. I have read that the germination rate is 8% for these seeds.

Neutral Nargauzius On Apr 1, 2007, Nargauzius from Washington Grove, MD wrote:

Biophysical limits
Altitude: 250-1300 m Mean annual rainfall: 230-300 mm Soil type: Prefers shallow soil, chiefly over limestone.

Botanic description
Commiphora myrrha is a sturdy, spiny, glabrous shrub or small tree, usually with a distinct short trunk up to 4 m tall. Outer bark silvery, whitish or bluish grey, peeling in large or small papery flakes from the greener under-bark; exudate hardly scented, viscid, producing a hard translucent yellowish gum-resin. All branches are spine tipped and knotted. Leaves trifoliate, chartaceous, greyish green or glaucous, very variable in shape and size; petiole 1-10 mm long; a few lateral leaflets, sometimes very minute may be found on both short and long and short shoot leaves, the leaves may be elliptic, spathulate or lanceolate, attenuate, cuneate, rounded or truncate at the base, rounded or acute apically, 6-44 mm long, 3-20 mm wide, with 3-4 rather weak main veins, margin entire or 6-toothed on each side. Male flowers usually precocious, 2-4 in dichasial cymes 3-4 mm long which are often sparsely glandular; bracteoles pale brown. 0.5-0.7 mm long and wide, often lightly attached at the base and forming a fragile detachable collar; receptacle beaker-shaped, petals oblong, tapering pointed and recurved at the tip, 4.5 mm long, 1.5 mm wide; filaments 1.4 and 1.2, anthers 1.2 and 1.0 mm long. Fruits 1-2 on jointed stalks, ovoid, flattened and beaked 2-4 mm long. Seed smooth with gentle swellings. C. myrrha is a very variable species, both in its leaves and in its pseudaril. The different forms seem to merge so impercetibly that the recognition of infraspecific taxa is often difficult. Forms in which the lateral leaflets are half as large as the terminal leaflet seem to occur only in the northern part of the area of the species and have not been seen in Kenya. The generic epithet is derived from Greek ‘kommis’ and ‘phora’ meaning gum bearer.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Los Angeles, California

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